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Route 66 News

Historic Williams lodge being converted into a winery

The old Wagon Wheel Lodge east of Williams, Ariz., on Route 66 is being transformed into the Wagon Wheel Winery by its new owners, reported the Grand Canyon News.

More details from the newspaper about the 10-acre property at 7545 E. Old Route 66:

Ann and Louie Serna planted about 1,200 grapevines on the property in the past few weeks. The Sernas chose to plant four different varieties of grapes, which come from New York and Europe.

Ann described the varieties as “a special hardy grapevine that is hopefully conditioned to be able to be at this altitude and be able to withstand a couple freezes.”

Don’t expect to buy a bottle soon, though. The Sernas won’t have any wine until late 2014 at the earliest.

The Sernas will apply to have the Wagon Wheel Lodge placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Wagon Wheel, which opened in 1937, offered a gas station, food, and guest cabins.

I found little about the Wagon Wheel Lodge on the Internet. However, I did find this image from a vintage postcard via the Illinois Digital Archives:

The Sernas acknowledged they’re taking a gamble growing grapes in a cold, high-altitude area. They’re also willing to plant hops and make beer there if the wine thing doesn’t work out.

UPDATE: The Wagon Wheel also was known as the McHat Inn during the 1930s. It became the Wagon Wheel in the mid-1940s. There’s this intriguing element:

It’s rumored that at one time it even boasted a “Red Light” out front calling the folks from the Elmo Dance Hall located across the road, but nobody will say for sure. The dance hall was demolished when the interstate was constructed.

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4 thoughts on “Historic Williams lodge being converted into a winery

  1. Bob Harmon

    This is a fascinating set of buildings, obviously well cared for by some previous owner, but in a location probably too isolated to succeed as a lodge. But it’s a beautiful setting. I wish the new owners the best!

    Bob

  2. Jen

    What an interesting way to re-use the lodge! I look forward to seeing the vineyard and hope they succeed wonderfully. 🙂

  3. czeslaw.. kruk

    That is a good news I drove through that are in 70,s fantastick location and now good wine will be better than petrol station.Best wishes to new owners, wine and pitch and put with partner would do
    Czeslaw

  4. Jonathan

    The new owners have wrecked that beautiful old historic lodge. I guess there were no regulations to preserve it’s historical character. What a shame. The upper floor has dormer windows, and there is this monstrous log awning and upper floor veranda that blocks much of the view of the lodge itself. It is so unfortunate to see so many of the historical structures along 66 being demolished or modified, instead of being restored to their original beauty

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