George Paul Vinegar is the culmination of many years of hard work, patience, and perseverance by the Johnson family—George and Karen and their three children Eric, Adam, and Emily. As far as they can remember, it all started with a few scrawny grapevines that George planted back in 1999.
The Sandhills region provides a unique and challenging environment for grapes. The varietals they grow must withstand long harsh winters and manage to ripen before the end of a very short growing season. These varietals and the unique terroir of the Nebraska Sandhills produce completely (and fantastically) distinctive wines. It might have been the unique taste of their wine that inspired a dear friend to suggest that they might try making balsamic-style vinegar as well.
Always up for a challenge, the Johnson family decided to give the vinegar idea a shot. Before they could get started, they needed a place (besides their kitchen) to work. So they applied for and were awarded a Nebraska Agricultural Innovation and Value-Added Agriculture grant to help build their facility in Cody. The Johnsons wanted their “vinegary” to be as sustainable and energy-efficient as possible. The straw-bale building was primarily designed by Emily and built with the help of family, friends, and neighbors. The passive solar design and thick bale walls keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The vaulted ceiling in the processing room and stucco finish make it a truly warm and pleasant place to work. The family’s bottled vinegars—made with 100% Nebraska fruit—were first made available at their Open House in October 2009. And they’ve been bottling ever since.