It may look like Tuscany, and taste like old world wines you love, but Sutcliffe Wines are fairly new and proudly based in southwest Colorado, outside of Cortez. After a successful career managing top restaurants in New York City and Charleston, South Carolina, John Sutcliffe purchased this property in 1991 to farm hay and lease to livestock ranchers. In 1995 he planted his first vines, by 2001 the 1999 vintage was released, and in 2010 the vineyard produced around 2,500 cases.
Today, the farm includes 12 acres of vines that ultimately become world-class varieties such as Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Petit Verdot.
Sutcliffe Wines are organically grown and are made and aged on-site. “I always loved good food, and my family farmed back in England, where I’m from. I’ve always done a bit of farming and loved it, so I did it here,” says John. A few years after purchasing the property, John put a conservation easement on the 88-acre farm. “I wanted to preserve the working land from development,” he explains.
Although Colorado is not often thought of as a wine producing state, Sutcliffe Wines are highly rated and in demand in Colorado and throughout the world. “We were awarded an 88 from Wine Spectator on our 2008 Down Canyon Blend. We’ve had 85, 86, 87, 88’s — our ratings continue to get better over time,” John explains. Sutcliffe wines can be found locally in Boulder and in the Denver metropolitan area restaurants and shops.
If you decide to visit, bring your appetite. Every year, the John Sutcliffe hosts a spectacular Harvest Dinner, catered by world-class chefs and featuring local products, and, of course, local wine.