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NEW VENTURES: Sleepy Cat Winery pounces on Allentown’s Theatre District vibe

PHOTO COURTESY OF SLEEPY CAT URBAN WINERY/ Mark Gerencher with Chilean wine fermenting in a tank at Sleepy Cat Urban Winery in Allentown.

You don’t need a vineyard to be a winery, said Mark Gerencher, who along with his wife, Carrie, is bringing the concept of an urban winery to the West End Theatre District of Allentown.

You don’t need a vineyard to be a winery, said Mark Gerencher, who along with his wife, Carrie, is bringing the concept of an urban winery to the West End Theatre District of Allentown.

What you need are quality grape juice, which the couple buys from locations around the world through a distributor, and a good location.

With the 19th Street Theatre, restaurants and overall arts community vibe, the Grenchers said the winery has found the right spot for Sleepy Cat Urban Winery at 19th and Allen streets.

Mark Gerencher said buying vs. growing grapes has advantages because he can get varietals from around the world and grown in the best climate for the grape.

“We can make stuff you don’t normally see around here because the grapes don’t grow here,” he said. “That’s what we want to do, different things.”

Buying slashes their startup time since they don’t have to wait the five years it can take for vines to produce the proper grapes.

Some of the wines Sleepy Cat will sell include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Muscat made from Chilean grapes as well as Vidal, Riesling and Aurore wines from New York state grapes.

The winery will feature a Catawba, normally a blush wine, as a white wine with the blush color filtered out. It also is considering a sweet Merlot.

Christopher Holland

Gerencher said he and his wife picked the business out of a love of winemaking they discovered after taking a wine class and then experimenting with their own techniques.

The couple began discussing the idea of opening a winery about a year and a half ago, just days before he was laid off from his corporate job of 18 years.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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