Wines & Vines Home
Welcome Guest

Wine Pioneers in Northern Arizona

First vines planted along Route 66; green packager switches gear

by Jane Firstenfeld
kind vines bottles
Kind Vines owner Dave Williamson sells wines to dozens of Arizona outlets in returnable, reusable bottles.
Coconino County, Ariz.—Arizona supports a grand total of 57 wineries: 23 in central Yavapai County (northwest of Phoenix) and 13 in Cochise County in the southern part of the state. At the moment, Kind Vines Sustainable Packaging Solutions in Flagstaff, Ariz., is Coconino County’s only licensed winery, according to WinesVinesDATA.

Not only is Kind Vines unique in its county, its unusual business model is perhaps the only one of its kind in the United States. Founded in 2010, and producing less than 1,000 cases annually, Kind Vine does not grow grapes, produce wine or have a tasting room or wine club for direct-to-consumer sales.

Owner Dave Williamson sources Kind Vines Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in bulk from California wineries, delivering them to Arizona in 275-gallon Vino Tote bags. He hand-sells his wines to dozens of retail and on-premise outlets in Arizona in returnable, reusable bottles. He claimed an astonishing 98% of all bottles were returned in 2012.

After sterilization in a re-jetted commercial dishwasher, the screen-printed bottles are ready for refilling: Current releases are a 2009 Lodi Chardonnay and a 2008 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. Williamson maintains his flexibility, and the bottles’ utility, by keeping his labels generic: non-vintage California Chardonnay and California Cabernet Sauvignon. No new COLA (label approval) is needed.

Williamson has been using Vino Lock glass stoppers sourced from Europe. These attractive closures are also demonstrably reusable, and Williamson said 90% were returned with the empty bottles.

Williamson just learned the closures have been discontinued. His bottle source, Encore Glass in Benicia, Calif., still has a supply on hand, with bottles adapted for the stoppers. Williamson picked up a new stock of screen-printed bottles in Benicia last week.

Williamson said a 2012 study by climate science graduate students at Northern Arizona University (NAU) found his environmentally conscious business prevented putting about 8 metric tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Since start-up, Kind Vines has bottled at Flagstaff’s Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Training, a Native American business incubator. Williamson is now planning a move to Oak Creek Vineyards and Winery, a 1,500-case operation in Cornville, Ariz., in neighboring Yavapai County.

“With this move I'll be able to provide packaging services for the wine industry, which is what my intentions were when I began this project,” Williamson said. He plans now to print labels and apply them in-house. “This will make it easier to secure private-label business,” he noted.

Wagon Wheel puts down roots
If Ann and Louie Serna succeed, Coconino County will eventually have its own locally grown wines. Near a historic building along Rt. 66, which they hope to convert into their tasting room, the couple planted vines this spring.

“We planted about 2.5 acres with about 1,400 vines,” Ann Serna told Wines & Vines. The “planting party” put in hybrids recommended for cold-climate growing: Vidal #1, Foch, Seyval Blanc and Landot Noir.

“All are in grow tubes, and irrigation is in. We had two wells on adjacent land, 180 acres, and we have just successfully drilled four more that we will use to irrigate the vineyards,’’ Serna said.

Although local news reported that the Sernas expect a crop next year, Serna acknowledged: “It’s probably overly optimistic. I’ve been told it’s a 2- or 3-year process, minimum. Patience is not one of my virtues, but it may need to be.

“This past week we got all the fencing done in both fields, so we’ve done a lot in a little time. The momentum is there. As to the winter and how we are going to protect the plants, that’s the next step that we’ll tackle,’’ she said.

The Wagon Wheel Winery will take its name from The Wagon Wheel Lodge, a dilapidated hostelry built as a stagecoach stop in the late 19th century.

According to Serna, it was known as the McHat Inn until the early 1940s, providing a filling station, food and cabin rentals. “At one time, it actually offered ‘red light’ services, so it has a unique history,” she said.

The couple has applied for historic registration and is awaiting certification from the National Register of Historic Places. “We intend to restore the building to its original form,” Serna said.

“We have the go-ahead from the building department, but we’re having a road block with the septic department. They originally wanted a commercial application, which we submitted, then wanted residential, which we submitted, now they want to go back to commercial. I don’t know their thought process but in my view, the county is not very pro-development,” Serna said.

The Sernas have enlisted an elite team to guide their progress: Nikki Check from Yavapai College; Barnabas Kane, landscape architect; Doug Stroh, building architect; former viticulture/enology chair of CSU Fresno Robert Wample and owner of Edgeknoll consulting; consultant Bob Webb; Dan Devere of Morning Dew landscaping; Michael Amundson, NAU history professor among others. “We have built quite the team, as we truly want this project to succeed,” Serna said.

Once their plans come to fruition, Wagon Wheel will effectively double the size of the Coconino wine industry, prompting Serna to say, “There’s a Coconino County wine industry? I didn’t know this.”

Despite bureaucratic recalcitrance, Serna reported, “The excitement from all the neighbo rs is great, and people stop by every day, all day, just to see the progress.”


Currently no comments posted for this article.

Wines & Vines Home
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
Wine Industry Metrics
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $546 million
$6,988 million
March 2014 $572 million $7,451 million
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $177 million
$1,483 million
March 2014 $213 million $1,634 million
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 253
March 2014 292 210
MORE » Released on 04.14.2014
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
Search the PWV archive »

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
Download full report »

  • April 17
    SSU Spring Business Mixer
  • April 17
    Temecula Grape Day Conference
  • April 18
    WineFlavor 101B: Nitrogen Management from Vine to Wine
  • April 19
    Appellation St. Helena food pairing competition
  • MORE »

Article: What to Do About Red Blotch »
There is NO correlation with planting density. Also FPS is working on the problem. New...
Reader: Guest
Article: Premiere Wine Auction Nets $5.9 million »
Thanks for letting us know Janet, we've updated the story. Cheers
Reader: Andrew Adams
Article: Will Barrels Go the Way of Floppy Disks? »
Fun piece. Particularly enjoyed the three clearly superior attributes of standard barrels, including looking cool...
Reader: Tom Gable
Article: Premiere Wine Auction Nets $5.9 million »
Nice article. It was a great event! Just noticed a few typos with the vintages: The...
Reader: Janet Viader
Article: Cornell Shows Off New Teaching Winery »
Why would any teaching facility possibly need nonstandard equipment such as tiny Scharffenberger presses and...
Reader: Craig Winchell

Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
Advanced Search »
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
Wines & Vines Magazine
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
Latest Job Listings
 Wine Educator - Paradu...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Cellar Worker Ii
 Hopland, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Cellar Worker I
 Hopland, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Cellar Worker Lead
 Hopland, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Lead Lab Tech
 Hopland, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Warehouse Associate
 Windsor, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Associate...
 Lower Lake, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Part-Time Bartender & ...
 Corte Madera, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Skilled Cellar Worker
 Windsor, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Sales Associate
 Boca Raton, FL
Sales and Marketing
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:

Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.