Franklin Hill Vineyards in Bangor, a member of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, has applied to open a craft distillery.
The license, called a limited distilling license, would cap the winery from producing more than 100,000 gallons of liquor a year. Currently there are only 12 active craft distilling licenses in Pennsylvania, with another 6 (including Franklin Hill) in the approval process. The El Vee profiled the first craft distillery to open in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Distilling, last year.
The distillery would be the first in the Lehigh Valley. Previous plans for a company called “Lehigh Valley Distilling” have yet to materialize. The winery’s application includes plans for what appears to be an addition to the existing winery structure, adding a large retail and tasting room area. Franklin Hill’s owner, Elaine Pivinski, declined to elaborate on the winery’s plans for distilling, but did disclose that the winery will be making alcoholic cider in the future, a provision allowed by Pennsylvania law under winery licensure.
The winery’s move comes as craft distilling is exploding in popularity across the United States. Just eight years ago there were only 50 small distilleries in the United States and today the number has risen to almost 300, with many more in planning.