Carl’s Pond wine hits shelves in Gig Harbor

Business: Winemakers have been selling for less than two months, but bottles popping up around town

of the GatewayDecember 11, 2013 

Winemakers Gary Sleeger and Frank Reale are just starting off with Carl’s Pond, but the bottles are making their way onto Pierce County shelves.

Carl’s Pond Winery started off with selections for family and friends, but now the wines can now be found at Harbor Greens, Bella Essentials and the Wine Studio. Wine can be ordered at Brix 25, the Greenhouse, Canterwood Golf & Country Club, the Hub at Tacoma Narrows and Cork! A Wine Bar in Tacoma.

Reale said the goal is to expand while maintaining a small, local flavor.

Terese Miller, the owner of Bella Kitchen and Home, said she sells Carl’s Pond because Reale and Sleeger are local and “producing really lovely wines.”

Selling local product is what Miller aims to do, and she’s happy to have a wine made by two friends in Gig Harbor who take time to make their product while they have other full-time jobs.

Above all, the goal is to “make wine, sell wine and have fun,” Sleeger said.

Sleeger is a marketing representative for heavy-duty machinery and auto parts throughout the Northwest and Alaska. Reale is a co-pilot for Alaska Airlines. Winemaking is a weekend activity, Sleeger said.

The name Carl’s Pond was carefully chosen. Sleeger’s Great Uncle-in-law is the namesake of a pond on Sleeger’s property. Eventually, the hope is the winery will move to the Sleegers, on 144th Street, and be on “Carl’s Pond,” Sleeger said.

It all started with a beer-making kit Sleeger bought for his wife in 1990. Sleeger began to brew beer, and then came fruit wines and, finally, grape wines. Early recognition came in 2006 with a blue ribbon at the Washington State Fair, Reale said.

For now, Carl’s Pond has a temporary space on Reale’s property on the Point Fosdick peninsula. The hope is to have a destination tasting room, Reale said. That way, Reale’s wife can have her garage back, Sleeger said.

Their grape sources come from eastern Washington, Reale said. Wines include Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc Blanc, Petit Verdot and Chardonnay.

Red wines take three years to age, Sleeger said, so even though the bottles are just starting to appear around town, the work has been going on for a few years.

Bella Kitchen and Home will host the latest Carl’s Pond event, a holiday pouring from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday. It will be during the annual holiday open house at the store, Miller said.

Sleeger said a previous event at The Wine Studio was encouraging. The winery had sold bottles for less than two months.

“It really went well,” he said. “We sold a lot of product.”

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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