For John Nicolozakes, wine started out as a hobby. He is a man of many talents, after all. Not only does he own and manage Cambridge’s only trucking company, but he also acts in commercials and short films.
This hobby, however, has transformed into a large-scale operation that features a wine shop, a pizzeria, and micro-brewery. Georgetown Vineyards is a romantic and feel-good destination in Guernsey County. It’s also a business that thrives on social consciousness and sustainability.
John began planting vines at its Georgetown Road location in 1998, and he continues to care for Georgetown Vineyards with the help of his wife Kay and their two children, Emma and Sam.
The strong family ties roll into the warm and lively spirit of the vineyard. A child carrying a pizza slice tottles behind his grandmother. Mindy, the family schnauzer, guards the entrance, anticipating the influx of people who arrive in the evenings to listen to bluegrass performers or smooth jazz. The vineyard’s rescue cat, Miles, prowls around the premises, eyeing customers as they pull out their phones to take pictures of his lion-esque haircut for Instagram and Facebook.
“Everybody comes here for the view,” says customer Jana Cowden, a Cambridge resident, as she places her glass of Chardonnay on the white patio table. “The music in the evenings also attracts a lot of people. My daughter has performed here.”
According to John, Emma spearheaded the business’s partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “I just happened to come across the EPA website and since we already had a wind turbine, I thought the partnership might be a good fit,” Emma states in an email.
The Green Power Partnership, created in 2001, is a program that educates and assists over 1,300 companies wishing to power their facilities with alternate energy forms and reduce their corporate carbon footprint.
Georgetown Vineyards has operated since 2009 using a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine, which took almost three months to install, Emma says. Two years later, they installed a 20 kW solar array, which consists of 90 panels.
These green-energy generators are used to power a pizzeria, a micro-brewery and a wine shop. Another 10 kW solar array powers the family’s small cabin on the outskirts of the vineyard. “We currently produce approximately 40,000 kilowatt-hours of green power annually, and use all of it!” Emma says.
The family business does more than utilize alternate energy in hopes of not operating wastefully. John explains that to water plants and flowers surrounding the vineyard, they reclaim water into cisterns attached to downspouts.
The rainwater collected is stored in tanks and used for the upkeep of the surrounding flora. “This water isn’t drinkable,” John says with a light chuckle. “But we don’t have to use city water. We have wells and rainwater.”
In fall 2015, Georgetown Vineyards opened its first brick oven, thus introducing its locally iconic wood-fire pizza. A year later, they installed an outdoor pizza oven to expand production. Guests gravitate toward “The Classic,” cheese and pepperoni on a thin crust.
Dry, medium-sweet, and sweet wines line the shop shelves. Georgetown Vineyards’ most popular wine, according to both John and Sam, is its Concord. Shipping of wine bottles is offered to 35 states.
Customers at Georgetown Vineyards are often first-time visitors, Sam says. “Sometimes you don’t pay attention to what’s in your backyard.” The business has its local customers, but people often travel from other counties to soak in the classic atmosphere and the expansive view of Cambridge, with its rolling hills and old churches peeking over the horizon. Sam even met customers visiting from France, who could enjoy a gleaming glass of Concord as the wind turbine towers ahead and the solar panels soak in the sun’s rays.