By Duante Beddingfield
EATON — Preble County’s first and only winery, The Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard and Winery, has set a grand opening date of Friday, June 17, according to co-owner and winemaker Mark Zdobinski.
The winery is located near the intersection of Ohio 127 and 726. The street address currently does not match what is shown by GPS coordinates; owners are working to correct it.
The business is named for an 1890 brick schoolhouse that has been renovated to as home to the production facilities, testing lab, spacious tasting bar area, and private meeting room. It sits on an eight-acre property which includes a vineyard of 1,000 grape plants.
“I’ve been making wine for about 35 years,” said Zdobinski, “and got serious about it 23 years ago when I got married. Two years ago, when we decided we wanted to start a company, I thought I should test things out in some competitions before I sank money into the idea. We went into the Indy International Wine Competition with two wines, and won got a silver medal and the other got double gold. That was enough to proceed.”
Zdobinski and partner/vineyard manager Jim Meeks bought the property in 2014 and began renovations. Last year, Zdobinski entered nine wines in two international competitions; each of them placed, with one winning bronze and the rest taking silver or gold.
The main tasting room and bar area will seat 60, with capacity for 40 more in the private room and an estimated 60 -70 on the outdoor patio. A duck pond is planned for the land between the patio and the vineyard.
There is space for a kitchen, to be added in a later phase to be announced.
Last weekend at the Ohio Wine Competition, Zdobinski’s Riesling won gold and Schoolhouse’s blackberry wine was awarded double gold achievement.
“We’re barely off the ground and not even officially open, and we’re going to national and international competitions and beating some of the big boys who’ve been around for generations,” he said.
When asked if that makes him feel like he can relax a little, he said, “No. That makes me want to get even better.”
The Olde Schoolhouse is in a “soft opening” period and currently serves on Fridays from 5-9 p.m. and Saturdays 1-9 p.m. Grand opening hours will be 2-10 p.m. on June 17 and 1-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.
Reach Duante Beddingfield at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @duanteb_RH.