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.