Couples find success with the Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery in Eaton.

By Tim Walker

Eaton, Ohio, may not be a wine aficionado’s first choice when it comes to locating fine wines … but then again, maybe it should. Tucked away there, just north of that tiny hamlet in Preble County, the Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard and Winery is quickly making a name for itself and its owners as one of the premier places for local wine lovers to sample and buy lovingly crafted wines made in the Dayton area.

“In the fall of 2014,” says Mark Zdobinski, co-owner of the winery, “me and my wife, Angela, got together with my business partner Jim Meeks and his wife and we partnered with them and started the Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard and Winery.”

But why wine? “Well, I started making wine way back in junior high school in 1979,” Zdobinski continues, “And I’ve just been doing it ever since. People have been telling me for years that my wines are good. And it’s fun. I enjoy it.”

While the wine may be the star attraction the winery and property itself also draw their own share of attention. The building, which is located at the corner of state Route 127 and state Route 726, is an old schoolhouse located on land that was bought from the Montgomery family not long after the end of the Civil War, in the late 1800s. The school operated for 40 years until it was closed and the property was sold back to the Montgomery family, who decided to renovate the building and locate their Montgomery Seed Co. business there—one of the state’s first seed companies. Once their business closed, the property sat vacant for 30 years before being purchased by the current owners, who bought it with plans to turn it into the winery.

“I used to drive past the building every day on my way to and from work,” says Zdobinski, “and I always thought, ‘Man, that would be a great place for a winery.’ The building has had two lives—and what we’ve done is renovate it and give it a third life, as a winery.”

While entirely renovated, the building has been allowed to retain its old-style charm. The grain elevator is still present in what is now the tasting room, and extends into the attic. The warehouse, which once housed tons of seed and grain, is now the production room where the wine is crafted. The property is also now home to more than 1,000 grapevines, tended and cared for by the owners.

Visitors will find more than 20 different wines available for purchase, among them a very popular blackberry wine, which was awarded a Concordance Gold Medal at the Ohio Wine Competition. Other wines that are available include Rebel Red, Pinkaliciouz, Valvin Muscat and Blascato.

Not far off the beaten path, the Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard and Winery, purveyors of fine wines and good times, should be a destination point for any knowledgeable Dayton wine lover.