EATON — Preble County’s first winery held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 16. Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery (152 Ohio 726) celebrated the end of its first phase of construction and launch of regular business hours with a crowd of invited guests and local officials.
Ohio 43rd district Rep. Jeffery Rezabek read a commendation from the state House of Representatives prior to the ribbon cutting.
“Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery is a welcome addition to the area,” the document read. “This new winery will undoubtedly gain a loyal clientele and earn the gratitude and appreciation of many satisfied customers, enhancing the quality of life within Eaton. The opening of this venture is a justifiable source of pride and an excellent reflection not only on the store itself but also on its astute management, on its hard-working staff, and on the community.
“Ohio’s economic well-being depends on small business entrepreneurs to provide goods and services to the citizens of our state. We are proud to note that it is through the diligent efforts of establishments such as this, which are willing to invest in the future of the community, that the State of Ohio continues to grow and prosper.
“Thus, with great pleasure, we congratulate Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery on its ribbon cutting and extend best wishes for outstanding success in the years to come.”
Co-owners Mark Zdobinski and Jim Meeks were on hand, pouring wine, speaking with guests, and giving tours. Meeks called the crowd’s reception “overwhelming. I’m loving every minute of it.”
Meeks and Zdobinski purchased the property in fall 2014 and did most of the restoration themselves on the 1890 brick schoolhouse structure and surrounding land, planting 1,000 grapevines, applying for a license from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, and intensively updating the interior, outfitting it for wine production as well.
Preble County Chamber of Commerce executive director Matt Owen said, “I was out here over a year ago with Mark, and he shared with me his vision of turning this into Preble County’s first winery. The building was in its original state then, and to see it completed now is absolutely amazing. It’s unbelievable how quickly it was done, and they’ve done a fantastic job of utilizing local resources. This truly is a local establishment.”
Local pride was a commonly expressed sentiment. Dayton Most Metro and Dayton Dining publisher Lisa Grigsby said, “Having a winery in Ohio that’s close enough to Dayton but also accessible to Indiana is a great thing. We’ve seen a lot of breweries opening over the last few years, but we haven’t heard about many new wineries, so this is exciting.”
Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech agreed. “It’s a huge day for Preble County,” he said, “because anytime we can bring in new business, that’s a step forward. And this isn’t just any business — we consider this an ag business. From an economic development perspective, we’re going to bring in a lot of people from out of town, and there’ll be new eyes seeing Preble County from the outside. That’s a great thing.”
Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery currently offers nine wines and will continue adding to its list as production ramps up. Hours of operation are Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., Fridays from 3-9 p.m., and Saturdays from 1-10 p.m. For more information, call 937-472-WINE (9463), or visit oshwinery.com.
Reach Duante Beddingfield at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @duanteb_RH.