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!!