Earlier today Lehigh Valley Live reported that there will be an unnamed distillery opening up in Bethlehem. The distiller? Franklin Hill Vineyards.
According to Adam Flatt, son of Franklin Hill owner Elaine Pivinski, the distillery, named Social Still, is hoping to move into a historical bank building. The building is located at 530 E Third St on Bethlehem’s Southside, just a short distance away from Artsquest and the Sands Casino. Mr. Flatt noted that no lease has been signed as of yet, and plans for the distillery are not finalized, although they hope to hold a press conference detailing more about the project in coming weeks. Former Mayor John Callahan, who now works as a business development official for Bethlehem developer Michael Perrucci, confirmed to us in late March that he was working on the distillery project.
We broke the news last October that the vineyard was interested in a limited distilling license, which allows a distillery to produce under 100,000 gallons of liquor per year. The winery’s previous application for a distillery at the vineyard included a large tasting room and retail area added on to their current tasting room.
Opened in 1976, Franklin Hill is the oldest vineyard in the Lehigh Valley. Their winery was constructed in 1981 and now bottles around 13,000 gallons of wine a year. Earlier this year they expanded their product line to include hard cider.
Craft distilling is a relatively new concept in Pennsylvania, with the first craft distillery opening in only 2006. That distillery, Philadelphia Distilling (which we profiled in 2012), has paved the way for distilleries like Social Still. The news of Franklin Hill’s distillery comes right on the heels of County Seat Spirits, a distillery that will be opening in the Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in the coming months. Once in operation, that distillery will make whisky, gin, rum, and vodka. Besides Franklin Hill and County Seat Spirits, there are several other distilleries being considered for the Lehigh Valley.
We’ll keep you updated with developments on the distilling community emerging in the Lehigh Valley as more details become available.