Dayton neighborhood wine bar celebrating 10 years with ‘Lemon Wine’ surprise

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

A somewhat hidden gem in Dayton’s Oregon District has become not-so-hidden over the past 10 years as it has become a go-to gathering spot for neighbors and friends.

Deaf Monty’s Wine, located at 22 Brown St. inside the Inn Port D’Vino bed and breakfast, began in 2011 after the inn’s owners, Leslie and Jeff Gonya, received lots of questions from guests about where to walk and grab a bottle of wine.

The Gonyas, both University of Dayton graduates, moved to the Oregon District from Patterson Park in 2002 to pursue their dream of opening a bed and breakfast. After nine successful years of growing Inn Port D’Vino, a wine-themed B&B business, they wanted to take advantage of a little leftover space at their 22 Brown St. location.

ExploreIf you like wine and dogs, this small, neighborhood wine bar is your new Dayton go-to spot

That’s where Deaf Monty’s namesake comes in. The wine bar opened in 2011, shortly after Blind Bob’s bar opened just around the corner on Fifth Street. Bob Mendenhall, aka Blind Bob, and his wife, Lisa Mendenhall, lived in Cincinnati at the time and became close friends with the Gonyas while staying at the B&B when visiting their son, Nate, owner of Blind Bob’s.

Credit: Sarah Franks

Credit: Sarah Franks

“As we continued thinking about names for the wine bar, we had a deaf pound puppy named Monty,” Leslie Gonya said. “He was one of two fuzzy white dogs we had at the time. As long as we’ve been a married couple, we’ve had fuzzy white dogs.”

The wine bar recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

According to Leslie, it doesn’t feel like it’s been 10 years since Deaf Monty’s opened.

“But in a good way,” she said. “Yeah, it’s just so much fun to run this kind of business. When we first opened up, we were only open Wednesday through Saturday, and as things became more successful we added Mondays and Tuesdays. We’ve seen the business grow over time. More and more neighbors find out about us and we’ve become that congregating spot.”

A different kind of wine experience that guests can now try at Deaf Monty’s is the new, grape-less wine, made entirely from fermented lemons. “Hand-crafted” in Lanark, Illinois, “Sqz” Lemon Wine, short for “squeeze,” is a 9% abv wine that is offered in three summer-inspired flavors — original lemon, lemongrass, cranberry and key lime.

“They are so popular,” Leslie said.

Sqz comes packaged in a capped jar that contains the equivalent of two glasses of wine, according to Leslie. Customers can purchase one jar for $5 to-go or a pack of four jars for $19 to-go.

Single glass pours of lemon wine are also now offered on-site for $5 a glass.

Perfect for lemon wine sipping is Deaf Monty’s cozy, bistro-style porch that was added a few years after the wine bar’s opening.

“You get people that don’t know each other, but you’ll start to hear a bit of a conversation, and then they’ll chime-in with each other,” Leslie said. “It’s those sorts of relationships that are forged and honestly it’s like my favorite time of the year with the patio because our lilac bushes are blooming, so it smells amazing out there.”

Monty passed away in 2014. But his spirit lives on through his other “fuzzy white” siblings who take turns keeping Leslie and customers company while they sip.

“We thought what would be kind of funny is if we named our wine bar after deaf Monty since there’s already Blind Bob’s up on Fifth Street,” Gonya said. “Basically, we checked with Bob what he would think, we didn’t want him to be insulted, but he thought it would be hilarious. We think wine should be fun, not snooty. If you have a cute puppy as your logo for a wine bar, no one is going to perceive you as snooty. It was just a fun thing. How many pound pups get a wine bar named after them?”

Deaf Monty’s Wine is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Sarah Franks

Credit: Sarah Franks

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