Georgetown Vineyards, Cambridge
An incredible view, gourmet pizzas and a fun lineup of fruit wines draw visitors to this Guernsey County winery tucked among the Appalachian foothills.
Georgetown Vineyards sits high atop a hill overlooking the picturesque town of Cambridge, leading guests up a steep, winding road flanked by rows of grapes and the sound of wild turkeys gobbling in the distance. Around the corner from the vineyard’s main entrance lies its main attraction: a nearly 2,400-square-foot white wooden patio that offers a view of the entire city, along with mile after mile of rolling Appalachian foothills.
“You want to create a place that has a special type of feel to it,” says John Nicolozakes, owner of Georgetown Vineyards. “It has to have the right combination of things, whether it’s the view, the architecture or building materials, to make people feel comfortable and to make the right impression.”
He planted the vineyard’s first grapes in 1998. A longtime beer and wine enthusiast, Nicolozakes slowly turned his hobby, and his home, into a full-on family business open six days a week, year-round. His four-car garage is now a 60-person tasting room and retail shop, while the basement of his home is now used to barrel-age the vineyard’s chardonnays, cabernets and other wines sold under Nicolozakes’ premium label, J. Nico Wines.
In addition to its multilevel patio, Georgetown Vineyards’ outdoor space features a large brick gazebo, tables set with terra cotta wine coolers and a bar located adjacent to one of the winery’s two European-style pizza ovens. Guests can sit at the bar and watch the vineyard’s chefs serve up pies made from scratch with herbs picked fresh from a neighboring garden.
Down the hill from the vineyard’s main patio and outdoor seating is the facility that produces, bottles and labels 19 styles of wine and brews two beers for the on-site microbrewery, Southside Brewing Co., which became part of the operation in 2015.
“I think sometimes people are intimidated by the process of ordering wine in ways they aren’t with beer,” Nicolozakes says. “We try to knock down some of that pretentiousness and tell people they don’t need to know anything about wine to enjoy it.”
Like many Ohio winemakers, Georgetown Vineyards produces a number of its wines with indigenous Concord and Niagara grapes, with the former becoming one of its flagship products. The winery’s American Concord wine is made from 100 percent Concord grapes and cane sugar, resulting in a sweet wine that’s balanced and refreshing.
Although the vineyard is known for delivering quality chardonnays, cabernets and pinot noirs, its more unorthodox fruit wines garner attention from returning customers. After reading an article about fruit wines in the 1990s, Nicolozakes began experimenting with everything from peaches to blackberries to cranberries.
The most popular is the American rhubarb wine, which took the silver medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in 2015 and Tasters Guild International Wine Competition in 2016. The wine has a pleasantly sweet character with a fresh rhubarb finish. Another popular choice is the Ohio apple wine, which took gold at the Tasters Guild International Wine Competition in 2016. It has a light, golden hue and a sweet, crisp taste that resembles a riesling.
In addition to its wine and food offerings, Georgetown Vineyards provides acoustic live music almost every Friday and Saturday throughout the year. In the spring and summer months, performers will play outdoors along the edge of the vineyard’s scenic patio.
“A lot of people make good wine,” says Nicolozakes. “And while we can’t necessarily say our wine is better, we can say that it’s difficult to match our view and the combination of the outdoor oven with this scenery. That’s what makes us stand out from the pack.” Mon.–Thur.
11 a.m.–8 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.; 62920 Georgetown Rd., Cambridge 43725, 740/435-3222, georgetownvineyards.com