Grape Breeder’s Hypothesis Could Reveal Norton Grape Origins
A Virginia grape breeder has conducted experiments and historical research that could lead to the unveiling of the genetic origin of one of America’s most renowned and mysterious native grapes: Norton. The UK-based Journal of Wine Research is publishing a paper by Dr. Cliff Ambers, owner of Chateau Z Vineyard in Amherst County, that will reveal the full details of his six year investigation: A Historical Hypothesis on the Origin of the Norton Grape.
‘This may be the first time a “formula” has been suggested for the origin of Norton, but getting to the hard truth of the Norton origin problem will require some very detailed genetics work, ” Ambers says. Norton is planted across the Midwest — much of it in Missouri – and produces high quality, powerful, dry red wine. The Chateau Z Vineyard owner says it’s known that Norton is very much like wild Vitis aestivalis — the grape species native to eastern North America – but it is self-fertile (i.e., a Norton vine is able to pollinate itself unlike pure Vitis Aestivalis) and must therefore be a hybrid, a result of crossing two or more grape species. He says one of the ‘parents” of the Norton grape could be Vitis Cinerea. The Norton ‘formula” Ambers proposes and his investigative work up to 2011 can be read in his Musings of a Grape Breeder: http://www.chrysaliswine.com/EMailBlast/MusingsofaGrapeBreeder.pdf