After the Durango Wine Experience, I visited the three wineries near Cortez. Most people find it hard to believe that there are wineries there, let alone that they grow their own grapes. While the terroir does not afford ideal growing conditions, and they deal with high-altitude and cold, winter temperatures, these three wineries are making great strides in producing excellent grapes to make delicious wines.
John Sutcliffe, owner of Sutcliffe Vineyards planted his first grape vines in 1995 and has been producing delicious wines ever since. John also raises livestock and grows hay as well as other orchard fruits.
Visiting with John Sutcliffe was one of the most enjoyable two hours I have spent in a while. Besides the beautiful McElmo Canyon and nearby Ancestral Pueblos, the vast openness of the countryside, can take your breath away. From Cortez, its a 10-mile drive to Sutcliffe Vineyards tasting room, but half the fun is getting there and once you arrive you will not be disappointed.
John is a gracious host and toured us around his tasting room and adjacent home, his vineyards and farmlands and we even took a 3-mile drive to his “cave.” Now I’m not sure if everyone gets a tour of the cave, but this is a remarkable cold storage space for Sutcliffe and I think the only Colorado “cave” of its kind!
After the tour, we basked in the sun, experienced the serenity of the area and enjoyed a sampling of Sutcliffe’s incredible tasting wines. My favorite was the Cinsault….something rare to Colorado wines. John Sutcliffe has definitely stepped forward as someone producing excellent Colorado wines.