Sleepy Cat Urban Winery, located in the heart of the Theater District in West End of Allentown, is owned and operated by Mark and Carrie Gerencher.
In August of 2016, Sleepy Cat opened with just 11 styles of wine. Mark & Carrie wanted to give their guests a fun atmosphere and a winery experience, urban style. They started making wine at home in 2012 after taking a wine-making class for their 8th anniversary. When Mark was laid off from his job of 18 years in 2015, they jumped at the chance to share their love of making wine with others.
The name Sleepy Cat Urban Winery was born when Mark and Carrie were sitting on the couch and all 3 of their cats, at the time, were sleeping with them, hanging out, and Mark said, “These damn sleepy cats!” They looked at each other and said, “That’s it! Sleepy Cat Urban Winery.”
The word ‘urban’ always had to be a part of the name because they knew they were different from a traditional winery; you can’t grow grapes in the city. Mark & Carrie’s business plan from the start was to make wine from grape juice & other fruit juices. Having a vineyard was never in the vision and still isn’t.
Currently, grape and fruit juices are purchased, to produce Sleepy Cat wines, from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey & Chile. All fermentation, back sweetening, filtering, and bottling processes are done on-site by Mark and Carrie and some very gracious friends and family. They can’t thank their “Friends of Sleepy Cat” enough for helping them out through these processes.
In addition to the winery & tasting room, the ‘Paw’ty Room, a separate space for parties and production, was added in the ‘fur’st year. Birthday parties, bridal & baby showers, a variety of DIY & Make and Take Classes as well as Tango dance lessons are held in the ‘Paw’ty Room. Sleepy Cat has even hosted a wedding & reception. If you have a special event coming up or teach a cool activity? Contact Sleepy Cat for more information!
Since being open, the wine list has grown to 30+ different styles. Sleepy Cat has a partnership with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs & is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Sleepy Cat was voted Best Winery in the Valley, 2 years in a row in 2018 & 2019, by Lehigh Valley Magazine. They have also been awarded 60+ medals for their wines, many with multiple award winners such as Smokey’s Midnight Treat, Sleepy Cat White, Kitty Kisses, Cherry Superstitious, and Cozy Cranberry.
Meet the owners...
Mark & Carrie Gerencher have been married since 2004. They held their wedding rehearsal dinner at this very space, which they’ve now transformed into an urban winery. This is a classic “when one door closes, another one open” scenario.
Mark was born and raised in Allentown, went to Allen High School and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing from the Pennsylvania State University. Mark worked for 18 years in the telecommunications industry. He enjoys playing Razz in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Be sure to ask him about the Raspberry Wine, RAZZ.
Carrie was born in Allentown and raised in Emmaus, but went to Salisbury High School. Carrie seems to be a life-long learner….having 2 Bachelor’s of Science degrees (Hotel & Restaurant Management and Nutrition) and a Master of Arts in Nutrition Education. She is currently a Registered Dietitian at the Weight Management Center for Lehigh Valley Health Network and teaches a Master’s class in Food Service Management for the dietetic internship at Cedar Crest College.
They both love animals and currently have 5 cats. They are geocachers that enjoy looking for adventure and meeting new people. They recently discovered an escape room in a box type game that they love to do. They’d love to visit all 50 states! 26 states down, 24 to go!
Meet the "real" owners...
Meet Dante, our 16 year “old man.” Dante is Carrie’s shadow; just look for Dante and you will find Carrie. He loves to take naps under the covers, watch the birds, and lounge in the sun. If you are a visitor at our house, you should consider yourself super lucky if you spot him as he is very skittish with anyone but us.
Meet Apollo! We adopted Apollo for our 13th wedding anniversary from No Kill Lehigh Valley. Yes, that’s where his name came from, Apollo 13. He is about 11 years old, but we can’t be sure because he was adopted. He is a big love bug and lap cat. He will stalk Mark when he gets home until he sits down so he can jump on his lap to get some pets. He is often seen bird & squirrel watching out the back window. He is so happy he has a home & some playmates.
Sedona is the prettiest girl. Sedona is 5 years old and was adopted from Itty Bitty Kitty. She definitely chose us to take her home. She loves to hang out under the rocking chair & play with her toys. When sitting on the rocking chair, we say she is on her throne. She loves to lay on Mark’s lap & watch for birds out the windows. Our first girl cat, she surely fits right in with the boys!
Meet Payson! He is 1 year old and was adopted from One by One, Inc. He is named after the town where we honeymooned in Arizona. He has an adorable “floofy” tail. He loves to play with his brother, Bisbee, and follow the other cats that he looks up to around the house.
Meet Bisbee! He is 1 year old and was adopted from One by One, Inc with his brother, Payson. He is also named after a town in Arizona that we have been to. We call him our close talker because he loves to be with us and the other cats. He loves to get face to face with the other cats and wants to directly lay next to them. He is our loooong kitty and big brother to Payson, whom he wrestles & grooms.