New Preble County winery gears up for spring opening

The Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery that we first told you about last July is wrapping up renovation of its tasting room inside a 126-year-old former schoolhouse north of Eaton and could host its grand opening next month, its co-founder said this morning.

“We’ve got the wines ready to go,” said Mark Zdobinski, co-owner and winemaker. The grand opening is projected for mid-May, although the precise date has not yet been set. “I still have a nice-sized list of things we want to finish” before opening day, Zdobinski said. A soft opening of sorts was held last weekend, and Zdobinski said he may do that again on a weekend or two before the grand opening.

The Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery is the brainchild of Zdobinski and Jim Meeks, who have served on the Preble County Farm Bureau Council together and who also share enthusiasm for wine. The co-founders purchased eight acres in fall 2014 that included the former one-room schoolhouse near the corner of Ohio 127 and Ohio 726 north of Eaton.

The structure was built in 1890 and operated as a schoolhouse until 1929. A seed company used the building for decades afterward, but it had been vacant for more than 30 years, Zdobinski said.

The vineyard owners also have planted more than 1,000 grapevines on the property. It will take a few years for the newly planted grapevines to produce a commercially viable crop, so the winery will be buying grapes for the next few vintages before the winery can produce an estate-grown wine, Zdobinski said.

Zdobinski has won multiple awards as an amateur winemaker before deciding to launch the commercial venture.

For more information or to check on soft openings, go to the Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery Facebook page at www.facebook.com/oldeschoolhousewinery.

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