To make the very best vinegar, you have to start with the very best wine - and the best wine is made from quality fruits picked at the peak of ripeness. We source our fruits, whenever possible, from local producers. Our apples come from the heirloom orchards at Arbor Day Farms. Most of our grapes come from our friends at Niobrara Valley Vineyards, where George is the head winemaker.
Vinegar-making is equal parts art & science. We use traditional old world methods, letting our cultures slowly do the work of transforming wine into vinegar. As such, our vinegars take anywhere from 2 to 8 years (in the case of our Emilia balsamic) to be 'finished', unlike conventional vinegars which can be made in a matter of days or even hours. Our slower process allows our vinegars to retain and concentrate all the flavors of the original fruit, whether apple or raspberry or grape.
This ethos of care and tradition carries through to all aspects of our business. Our packaging, for instance, is all designed in house by Emily - she even letterpress prints some of the labels with her centuries-old press.
In May of 2007, we broke ground on our new production facility. Designed and built with our own hands, it was quite an adventure. We utilized strawbale construction, for its aesthetic and energy-efficient properties. This building method was developed in the Sandhills of Nebraska over 100 years ago and has been regaining popularity as a sustainable and environmentally responsible building method. The bale walls are over two feet thick and provide tremendous insulation from the dramatic temperature fluctuations we experience here, as well as from noise and wind. This, coupled with passive-solar design properties, has proven to be extremely efficient. The building turned out beautiful - it is a true pleasure to go to work each day.
If you'd like to see more photos of our vinegary and the process of building it, here is a SLIDESHOW.
George Paul Vinegar is definitely a family affair. From picking grapes to hosting tours to building our vinegary, the whole family has been a part of growing this business. Now you'll often find George and Karen's grandkids running around the vinegary "helping" Grandpa.
If you'd like to read even more about how we started our business and decided on our name, HERE is a more thorough account.