Cynthiana Grape

There are very few grape varieties that make enough natural sugar needed to produce a traditional dry wine. There is one grape species, however, out of two dozen native to North America proven to produce award winning wines. This grape is known as Norton or its scientific name vitis aestivalis. It has been quite popular as a staple of American vineyard planting and winemaking.

The Norton is also called by another name, Cynthiana (pronounced sin-thee-ana). For a dry red wine that is full-bodied, Cynthiana grapes are ideal. These grapes produce a wine similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon but with a spicier taste. Cynthiana grapes have a great resistance to most of the diseases that seem to affect fruit and leaves. They are vigorous plants that bear small grapes bursting with flavor and tend to ripen in the fall around August and September. As a result, they make a deeply pigmented wine.

The grape vines are not easy to find when looking to plant a new crop although some searches on the Henry Fields Internet site prove to be useful. To propagate the grape from cuttings is difficult, which is different from most grape cultivars. Despite this challenge, Cynthiana grapes show a great deal of promise in the winemaking industry. Viticulturalists have investigated how to improve propagation by treating cuttings with hormones to fortify the roots. One such hormone is indole-3 butyric acid (IBA). Even though this wine has proven difficult to grow, American winemakers are still pleased with the chance to grow this grape on native soil, especially due to its hardiness in the winter and strong resistance to diseases that seem to affect other native grapes.

Cynthiana grapes also lack the “grape” aroma that seems present in other grapes grown in the region. In addition to disease, the grape has a high resistance to black rot which makes it ideal for vineyards that want to grow it organically. One such winery is Stone Bluff Cellars in Oklahoma. The names Norton and Cynthiana are used interchangeably in different states. For example, in Arkansas, the locals call it Cynthiana while in Missouri, they call it Norton. The wine variety has been sold commercially since 1830.

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