One of the most important considerations when planning the winery was what kind of grapes should we grow? After careful deliberation, we chose to raise Chambourcin,Vidal Blanc, Traminette, and Norton grapes. These particular grapes were chosen based on their hardiness and their proven ability to produce in our climate here in Dorchester County.
Although not much is known about the birth of the aromatic Chambourcin, we do know that it was introduced to the public by Joannes Seyve in 1963, in the Loire Valley. It is a French-American hybrid which produces a blue-black fruit after a long growing season. Chambourcin vines have many assets that make it more resistant to disease, such as cold weather hardiness and loose bunches. This versatile fruit lends itself to medium- to full-bodied complex wines, softer than Cabernet and Merlot, but spicy like Shiraz. It imparts flavors such as raspberry, cloves, cherry, plum and tobacco, and is nicely complemented by dark chocolate. It is widely grown in the Loire Valley, France, and Queensland, Australia, and is quickly gaining popularity in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
Lazy Day Rose, our premier estate wine, is made exclusively from Chambourcin grapes grown at the Layton’s Chance vineyard in Vienna, MD.
Better known as Vidal, for its breeder Jean Louis Vidal, this French-hybrid was born of Ugni blanc (Trebbiano) and Seibel grapes in the 1930s. As a highly productive grape, it is widely grown in Canada and the eastern United States. The robustness of the vine allows Vidal to survive in cooler climates, although it prefers (like many of us) a more moderate winter. Its adaptable characteristics make it suitable for many types of wine, including off-dry Germanic style wines, sparkling cuvées, and simple table wines. Canadian wine makers even use it for Ice Wine, which is made from grapes harvested and pressed while still frozen.
Vidal grows in long, loose clusters (see picture). They ripen slowly and steadily, to produce clean, citrus flavored wines. The fruity flavors range from grapefruit and lemon to melons and pears.
If you are familiar with German wines, you may recognize a familiar flavor in a glass of our Traminette white wine. Both the name and the vine are offspring of the Gewürztraminer grape variant (itself a variant of Traminer). The vines produce large, loose clusters of light green grapes which ripen mid-season for a well-balanced, textured wine.
Traminette, the offspring hybrid which we grow here in Vienna, is sturdier and more cold-hardy than its more renowned parent. And yet, it exhibits many of the unique qualities-floral aroma, spicy flavor, and residual sweetness-for which Gewürztraminer is famous. These wines have a delightfully light and crisp expression, very similar to Germany’s most popular viticultural export, the Riesling.
Norton grapes are the oldest cultivated American variety known to exist. Originally grown by Dr. D.N. Norton of Richmond, Virginia, it’s origins are somewhat steeped in mystery with some believing it to be derived from an extinct varietal of grape called Bland but others disputing that all together. Regardless of it’s beginnings however, the Norton is now incredibly popular with vinters due to it being highly adaptable to growing conditions, especially here in the Mid-Atlantic states, and the fact that it is durable, hearty and nearly immune to disease. The largest single planting of Norton, 69 acres, is only one state over in Middleburg, Virginia.
Norton wine production was wildly popular in Missouri in the late 1800s but then was nearly eradicated by Prohibition as people pulled up their vines and replaced them with Concord grapes for use in jams and juice. Norton grapes are actually quite similar to Concord in that they are intensely ‘grapy’ in flavor just slightly less sweet. It is widely accepted that Norton grapes work well in dry red wines and wines that are barrel aged.