Archive for March, 2016

Black Arts Cellars – a new winery in SW Littleton

I’ve heard of winemakers using their geologist knowledge, their engineering skills, and especially their taste buds, but I had not heard of any winemaker using “black magic” until I met the owners of Black Arts Cellars. Okay, so maybe John and Liz Cowperthwaite aren’t exactly using black magic, but John is a little superstitious and “the winery name is a tip of the hat to the magic.”

It is this philosophy that appears in many aspects of Black Arts Cellars. The wine’s names and labels use 16th century tarot card symbols and old French spelling. (see pictures below) Le Toille (Syrah) is the star card, and its bold flavors of cherry and dark fruits with medium body and soft tannins make it definitely a star! La Mort, uses the death card to represent the dark, inky black fruit flavors of Petit Sirah. Opposite that is Le Soleil, representing the sun in their Sauvignon Blanc. The Lover card used on the L’Amoureux label is a blend of Roussanne and Viognier, which I sampled and found it was truly a loving blend of these two grapes. In fact, it won a Silver Medal at the 2015 Denver International Wine Competition. Finishing out the current production is a Cab Franc called La Maison Dieu and is represented by the Tower card.

So how did Liz and John get started in the winemaking business? It began with years of enjoying wine, and then on a vacation in Western Australia they visited a winery with just 3 people overseeing the entire operation. The light bulb went on and they thought they could do that as well. Over the past 10 years John has gone from making wine in small batches in the garage to producing more and more each year, while also taking classes at UC-Davis. He began his business plan 4 years ago, following an urban winery model and just this past June opened Black Arts Cellars in Southwest Littleton.

Since June, they have sold out of their Rosé, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvédre, but plan to make it again soon. The Rosé is aged in oak for 4-5 months and in fact, all their reds are aged in oak as well, but the white wines are stored in stainless steel tanks before bottling. John and Liz are planning to bottle within the next few weeks and will have 8 wines available for tasting (and purchasing!).

Having “art” in their winery name, they have teamed up with the Ken Caryl Art Guild, displaying many works of art on a rotating basis. Watch their website for an event showcasing the art, along with live music, food, and of course, good wine. Black Arts Cellars is just off C-470 at Ken Caryl and a great place to stop, enjoy the view, and sample some delicious wine! You will also get a warm welcome from their Weimaraner, JP!!

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Changes at Carlson Vineyards

There are changes taking place at Carlson Vineyards, but things are also staying the same. So what does that mean?? After many years in the winery business, Parker and Mary Carlson have sold their business…the change! What isn’t changing…according to new owners Garrett and Cailin Portra is “the spirit and soul of Carlson Vineyards.” For those of us familiar with Carlson we know their top seller is Sweet Baby Red, which is a blend of 8 grapes (primarily Merlot, Lemberger, Syrah, and Orange Muscat, and the rest a secret!). The winery is known for its fruit wines, semi-sweet and sweet wines as well as their dry whites and reds.

Garrett isn’t a “newbie” at Carlson, having worked at the winery for over 5 years. During that time Garrett experienced every aspect of the business….from cellar assistant to tasting room to management, and additionally took courses at UC-Davis and online certificate courses through Washington State. Garrett grew up in Missouri’s livestock and hay business and earned his degree in environmental science. When he met Cailin in college, whose father owned a small winery in Missouri, their destiny was sealed!

Carlson’s fruit wines are made with 100% Colorado fruit and its Peach Wine is produced from Palisade’s own delicious variety. Carlson Vineyards grows its own grapes on 3 acres and sources its other grapes primarily from the local area. Garrett says he will continue to produce their “world class fruit wines” and balanced sweet wines as well as their top selling Gewürztraminer and Riesling whites, and of course, Sweet Baby Red!

So what will be new at Carlson? Garrett is working on a Lemberger / Cab Franc blend and will be “re-vamping” some of the other reds, using a barrel fermenting and blending approach. Also coming soon is a dry Rosé made from 100% Lemberger. Since Sweet Baby Red is so popular, Garrett is working on a Sweet Baby White made from Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Orange Muscat.

Stop by Carlson Vineyards located in an old peach packing shed, although plans are in the works for a remodeled tasting room. Carlson is also part of the Grand Valley Winery Association, who will be having their “Barreling into Spring” event this April and May. Click here for details.

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