The Winery at Shale Lake is Central Illinois Newest Destination on Route 66, Where Making Wine is Just the Beginning

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The Winery at Shale Lake's thriving vineyard produces more than a dozen wines on site on Historic Route 66. The 200 acre country setting boasts a tasting room, outdoor patio, lakeside trail, horse boarding stables, and eight well-appointed rental cabins.

Shale Lake Tasting Room and Patio

A thriving vineyard would be enough for many people. For Susan and David Wesa, their purchase of more than 200 acres with a lake in 2007 opened the door to create the perfect next chapter.

“Retirement for us meant working 16 hours a day to create a relaxing get-away destination for people traveling southwest Illinois,” Susan Wesa said of The Winery at Shale Lake, in Williamson. They started their new adventure by planting over 4,000 vines and offering fishing memberships on the property’s 24-acre lake.

More than a dozen wines are made and sold on site. The on-site tasting room and outdoor patio allows people to enjoy the wines, food and atmosphere in a country setting or hike around or ride a Surrey-style bicycle down to the lake for picnics. Also on the property are horse boarding stables, riding trails and eight well-appointed rental cabins. The Winery is located southeast of Staunton between Interstate 55 and Historic Old Route 66, just 40 miles from St. Louis.

“We are eager to continue with the next steps of our development plans,” David said. National Bank, headquartered in Hillsboro, Illinois, is financing the expansion. “Having a local partner like National Bank was important to us. The loan staff could see our visions for Shale Lake and were excited about a destination for day trippers, weekend travelers and special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries or birthdays. They saw the value of our already established business and the potential for new ventures.”

Future plans for the couple include building an outdoor venue for weddings and special events and campground with 78 campsites. Ultimately a banquet center and larger winery tasting room are also planned.

“Local Business Bankers have the flexibility to see what the market needs, wants and can sustain. We’re right there with them, helping put those plans into motion,” said Harry Hutchison, President, National Bank. National Bank created a loan uniquely structured to meet the needs of the winery’s plans now and for the future. “It’s exciting to see businesses growing in your own community,” Hutchison said.

For Susan and David, they are growing grapes and a place for families to create many happy memories. The Winery at Shale Lake is open Friday through Sunday with cabins available 7 days a week year-round. Susan and David can be reached at 618-637-2470 or online at

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