Monday, September 08, 2014


This year marks the 175th Anniversary of the founding of Brotherhood Winery, America's Oldest Winery, which is right here in the Hudson Valley. Brotherhood's history reflects the history of wine in America, as it dates back to well before the Civil War. The winery has seen many changes many ups-and-downs, to great expansions, surviving prohibition, to fire, to renewal and expansion.
Today Brotherhood is among the largest wineries on the eastern seaboard, and has been lovingly and lavishly restored, and is among the jewel wineries of not only the Hudson Valley, but New York state and the east coast. Few wineries anywhere in the world boast such lovely rooms and grounds as Brotherhood boasts today.
In the meantime, Hudson Valley Wine magazine has published a commemorative book on the oldest continuously operating winery in the US, which is also quite fun. And of course, there's wine to talk about as well. So let's get going!
The tastingroom is among the largest and most opulent on the east coast.
The dining facilities are enormous and sumptuous.

And of course the ancient vaults that pre-date
the Civil War are both cavernous, as well as dripping with history.
The Brotherhood Winery is commonly acknowledged to be the oldest operating winery in the United States. It is located in Washingtonville, New York, a community in the Hudson Valley, and produced its first commercial vintage in 1839. In 2000 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The winery uses the slogan "America's Oldest Winery."
Brotherhood Winery was started by John Jaques, who deeded it in 1858 to his three sons, John Jr., Oren, and Charles, later renaming it "Jacques Brothers' Winery." In 1886, ownership of winery came under the father and son ownership of James M. and Edward R. Emerson, acquiring it from Charles, the last surviving Jaques brother. The Emersons renamed the operation "Brotherhood" and expanded its facilities to include the single remaining original building on the winery's property, as well as adding large underground winemaking facilities. Edward wrote the book The Story of the Vine while in ownership of Brotherhood.

The winery remained in operation during Prohibition as it produced sacramental wine for the Catholic Church. New ownership came in 1921 with Louis Farrell and his son Louis Jr. The Farrells owned the winery until 1947 when both the father and son died in close succession. Control of the winery passed to three Farrell cousins. Francis Farrell was the cousin that ran the vineyard through the World War II era. An expansion included visitor tour facilities and recognition for award-winning wines in regional wine competitions.
The view through the bullet proof glass
window of the champagne riddling room.

“When legend becomes fact,” the old Hollywood adage goes, “print the legend.” For Brotherhood Winery, which produced its first documented vintage in 1839, legend and history intertwine. Its stories have been told and re-told, gaining scope and dimension. Some have been exaggerated beyond recognition.

The true facts about Brotherhood have confused many people for many years. Is Brotherhood really the oldest winery in the United States? Who was the founder, and was he a Scottish emigrant, a French Huguenot, or a cloistered monk? Where did the name “Brotherhood” actually come from? How did the winery survive Prohibition? Did Brotherhood truly invent “wine tourism?” And how did it become the premium winery it is today?

In THE STORY OF BROTHERHOOD, AMERICA’S OLDEST WINERY, Robert Bedford sets the record straight, and explores the remarkable past of the country’s oldest winery. The book celebrates nearly 175 years of captivating history, and commemorates its owners and stakeholders who contributed to the winery’s longevity through loyalty, perseverance, innovation, and sheer imagination.

A remarkable collection of rare images vividly illustrate the evocative text, stories and anecdotes—as well as the facts—with over 350 photographs, labels, documents, memorabilia, and advertisements. Culled from private and public collections, and carefully restored by the author, most of the images and documents have never been published before, or seen outside of Brotherhood Winery.

With this combination of insight and imagery, THE STORY OF BROTHERHOOD, AMERICA’S OLDEST WINERY unfolds through eras of grit and glamour. It is as comprehensive as it is pioneering; a major contribution to the history of winemaking and wine production in New York and the United States.
Robert Bedford is the co-founder and executive editor of Flint Mine Press and Hudson Valley Wine Magazine, and has written and edited widely on the history of viticulture and viniculture in the Hudson Valley. A longtime historian and archivist with additional expertise in archival photograph restoration, he has curated and produced photographic exhibitions with accompanying published works and catalogs for non-profit organizations and museums.

The book is incredibly well packaged. The design is engaging and colorful, and Bedford has researched incredibly well. It's filled with photos, labels, and documents. Rich in color as it is in history, this book is absolutely fascinating!! Robert Bedford did an incredible job and the design by Linda Pierro is fantastic!

“Through the photos, documents, and writings in this book we can place Brotherhood not only in the context of American viticulture and the country’s ever-changing tastes in wines, but also in the broader landscape of American history. We can also look ahead, to what it means to preserve and restore this rich history, and what it will forecast for the next centuries to come.”
– from the Foreword by Adam Strum, Editor and Publisher, Wine Enthusiast Magazine
“It is a privilege to recognize the historical importance of the Brotherhood Winery as told through THE STORY OF BROTHERHOOD, AMERICA’S OLDEST WINERY.”
– Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator, New York

Brotherhood was among the first wineries in America
 to offer regular tours available to the public!

If you are a wine history buff, this book is a Must Have!

Flint Mine Press and Brotherhood combined to create a whole new tour experience of their facilities. They put up state of the art new plaques, and cleaned up old historical machinery, and brought some of the oldest wine cellars in the Western Hemisphere back into shape for a unique experience. anywhere in the world. The colorful, fact-filled broadsides are engaging and fun.




Today, Brotherhood is one of the largest producers and packagers of wine on the eastern seaboard. They have three massive bottling lines, and bottle wine for wineries from all over the world, they also make hundreds of thousands of gallons of wine. Their wines are for sale throughout the US. The range of the wines they offer is immense. We can't even begin to evaluate and review them all here.
Included here a few recent tastes. Brotherhood has become well known for their premium wines, including spectacular sparklers such as Monarque and "B" their Chardonnay sparkling wine. And I have long been a fan of their Chardonnay. Bob Barrow is the unsung hero of Brotherhood, making wine there for more than ten years now. An he's been continually honing his craft, as the wines keep getting better. He's actually a master with Riesling, but that's for another story (I'm getting ahead of myself).

Recently, at both the Bounty of the Hudson and at the Hudson Valley Wine Festival I tried the Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. This was an exquisite wine with lots of raspberry, cherry, blackberry and cassis. Lovely mouthfeel, and a lovely balance with the tannins. Great acidity, but a big wine, full of possibility. You can drink it now, but you can lay it down for a little while too. Perfect with steak or grilled meats or spicy pasta dishes. Excellent! Very impressive.

The 2013 Pinot Noir was a revelation. A lovely, gorgeous silky wine with beautiful cherry flavors and just a hint of vanilla and spice. A classic Pinot Noir, and at $16 a bottle, it's an absolute steal!!!! Bob has long had a way with Pinot, and this one is not exception. Low tannins make this incredibly drinkable, and a great food wine. This is a lovely wine!!
I haven't been able to try True Companion, but I was able to try True Believer, which was originated out on the North Fork of Long Island, but ha now found a loving home as part of the Brotherhood portfolio. As the demand for quality cider continues to grow, Brotherhood has up with the times. True Believer is a delicious, crisp, effervescent cider that's made for drinking. Refreshing and delicious, it smells like biting into an apple! Fantastic!

If you are going to be in the Hudson Valley, you need to go to Brotherhood, do a tasting try their restaurant, and go on the tour and buy the book. Might take you a half a day or more....but it's a day you won't soon forget.