RIP Dennis Horton

A little late, but here’s the sad news on one of VA wines’ founding fathers: I remember speaking to him once or twice in his tasting room.

I met Dennis probably 15 years or so ago as I was thinking about planting my own home vineyard. He spent a few hours talking to me and my wife about his experiences and what works and doesn’t work in our area. At that time my wife really wanted me to plant zinfandel. I had told her that it didn’t seem like it would work but she would never take my word for that so after an hour or so with Dennis she asked him. He looked her straight in the eye and said “God himself can’t grow zinfandel here.” Of course, I still had to put in a few vines just to verify.

A very nice man who I had the pleasure of meeting a number of times. I remember years back in the '90s or early 2000s, folks at Martinelli offered to trade me some Jackass Hill if I would bring them some Horton Viognier, which for some reason they couldn’t get in California.

I had the exact same experience with a finger lakes winery during the same time period. But they would only take bottles procured directly from they winery. I guess it was a real hot commodity at that time.

That is sad news. Met him a couple times years ago at wine/grape seminars. He made some pretty nice Viognier down in Va.


I remember geeking out over Horton’s Norton early in my wine career. Always interesting to taste.