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Horton Vineyards, Gordonsville

2.6
#72 of 163 in Wineries in Virginia
Wine lover and entrepreneur Dennis Horton began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983. It did not take him long to realize that, although the Virginia summers were warm enough to ripen almost any grape variety, the humid conditions favored growing grapes with thicker skins and loose clusters. There began the search for varieties that would flourish in Virginia’s climate and had the capacity to produce some of the finest wines of the world.

Dennis' search concentrated on the warm growing regions of southern France, and before planting any additional grapes, Dennis traveled to the Rhone valley in France. There he was struck by wines he felt had beautiful texture, grace, and finesse. In his research, one grape in particular seemed to keep coming up as perfect - Viognier. It was a grape of wonderful potential - it had a thick skin and loose clusters, perfect for the Virginia climate. And most importantly, it made some of the world's finest wines - those of the Condrieu and in particular Chateau Grillet.

In California Dennis learned of only a few producers working with and producing Viognier in limited quantities. However, new plantings were going in all over the state and enthusiasm was high. So the decision was made to plant Viognier, along with lesser amounts of Marsanne, Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and several other grape varieties like the native grape Norton, which enjoyed so much success in the 19th century in nearby Charlottesville. In the late 1800's, central Virginia was declared the "Capitol of the Eastern Wine Belt." Some of the Norton had survived prohibition in Dennis' home state of Missouri, and he was intrigued by the idea of reviving this historic grape with its incredibly rich, fruity flavor, soft tannins and inky color.

In 1988, Dennis and longtime business partner Joan Bieda acquired 55 acres for the beginning of Horton Vineyards. The task of establishing the vineyard was given to Dennis' wife Sharon, a nurse by trade, whose meticulous nature was reflected in the manicuring of the East Coast's most unique vineyard. Utilizing the "open lyre" training system, which promotes ideal ripening, and drip irrigation for ideal soil moisture conditions, the vineyard was established with quality in mind. In 1991 the first small crop was harvested, and made into wine at Montdomaine Cellars, a noted Cabernet producer. With his wine aging in the cellars, it was a natural transition for Dennis to take over the management of Montdomaine Cellars, and produce Chardonnay and Cabernet under that label, in addition to his own line of Rhone Varieties. The 1992 wines were very well received in national competitions and construction was begun on a new underground winery. Stunning stone underground cellars, views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a wonderful vaulted ceiling tasting room are the highlights of this beautiful winery. 1993 saw the first crush at the new Horton Cellars and in 1994 additional acreage came into production with plantings of Bordeaux, Portuguese and Spanish varietals as well as additional varietals of the Rhone Valley. The national success of these wines has demonstrated that if the right grapes are planted for the climate of Virginia the results can be stunning.

Horton Vineyards continues to explore with new varietals and techniques to achieve the very best that Virginia viticulture can produce.
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Horton Vineyards Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.0
201 reviews
Google
4.1
TripAdvisor
  • The tasting area could use some updating. There are only 2 bars for tasting so, you may have to wait for spots to open up. I was already familiar with Horton wines but, I had never been to the vineyar...  more »
  • I love it when a winery has a vast array of wines to pick from and Horton sure fits that bill. The location is lovely with a majestic tasting room. The staff was very friendly and I was immediately ta...  more »
  • Good wines. The staff was super friendly however they were all new and not super knowledgeable about the wines.  more »
Google
  • Oh my gosh I had the best time!!! The people are super friendly & down to earth. They answer any & all questions you may have. The event my husband & I went to was the Chocolate & Wine Tasting. It was FABULOUS!! The wines were matched with specially made chocolates. This event is held every February. This was their 3rd year having it. We did more wine tasting downstairs. You get to choose 10 different wines for $6.50 per person! They are very knowledgeable about their wines & such pleasant people. Can't wait to do it next year!
  • The woman who ran our tasting was fantastic, but I didn't catch her name! She did an excellent job of working through our tastes to find wines we enjoyed! Will definitely be back to try more!
  • Great way to spend a few hours. Excellent wines, friendly staff. Had a great time and bought a case!
  • Horton offers a large tasting selection and a wide variety of wines. My husband and I loved the Pinotage! That being said, these wines aren't my favorite and seem underdeveloped compared to other wines in the area. If you aren't trying to make it out to lots of vineyards in the Monticello and could only select a few skip Horton.
  • Mardi Gras party at Hortons was amazing. Good wine good food great atmosphere. Had a great time.
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