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    ASWA Remembers Dennis Horton

    Dennis Horton

    Dennis Horton

    Dennis Horton passed away on June 19th 2018 at 72. In 1983, he co-founded with his wife Sharon Horton Cellars and vineyards. They created 110 acres of vineyards and a winery that produces 35,000 cases annually.
    He was a highly influential pioneer of East Coast viticulture who did not want to plant the same varietals as everyone else. Dennis understood that the summer rains and humidity are conducive to fungi and rots so he searched for varietals with thick skins and loose clusters that are inherently less conducive to fungi and rots.
    His tenacity with planting experimental varietals resulted in some successes, Viognier, Touriga Nacional, Tannat, Graciano, Rkatsiteli, Nebbiolo, Petit Manseng, and Pinotage to name a few. But he also tried to no avail growing and making wine from Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and other varietals. He said that he has probably pulled up more vines than most people have planted.

    In 1990 he planted Viognier when it was thought to have little more than 25 acres remaining in the world. His 1993 bottling was the only known Viognier in the U.S. It won 1st place in a prestigious California wine competition. Most people had never heard of Viognier at that time and that propelled Dennis and Viognier onto the world wine stage.

    His willingness to share what he had learned was a boon to Virginia and East Coast winegrowing, ensconcing his legacy to live on. Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association has made a donation to the Piedmont Virginia Community College Education Foundation in Dennis’ name to honor him and his contributions to the wine industry in Virginia.


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