Inside America’s Oldest Winery

Our editorial staff arrived at Washingtonville, a compact village of some 6,000 dwellers at quarter past noon. The scorching sun could have treated our sedan better, but it decided not to — the day scored the record-breaking 100 degrees exercising no shame or mercy. The town looked humble and lazy, there were a few cars, heading north, struggling through the curvy gravel road. We followed. Cleverly concealed, the road opened into a spacious estate, buried in verdure.

_27A7327 copy

In 1810, a French Huguenot emigre John Jacques moved to the village to build two wine cellars. Each ceiling was built thick with two feet of brick, dug 14 feet deep and stretched 72 feet in length. They were later referred to as the “Smith” vault and the “Center” vault. By 1837, Mr. Jaques needed more land, so he kept expanding, purchasing building after building. By 1839, he fermented his first wine vintage. Those cellars, the oldest and largest in America, are still in use today.

_27A7232 copyA cafe located on site serves local labels

During Prohibition, Brotherhood remained creative by re-profiling into the production of church wine. It has been noted that the clergy population in the area grew substantially during this period.

_27A7426One of the cellars at Brotherhood Winery

_27A7490Champagne bottles are stored upside down and rotated regularly. The chalk marks help identify the bottles that need to be turned

_27A7456The cellars at the winery also served as Fallout Shelter

_27A7498Century-old bottles of wine are carefully preserved

_27A7408 copy

_27A7527Before the process was automated, wine casks had to be manually cleaned from the inside

_27A7374The lights at the cellar

_27A7351Brotherhood’s own collection of vintage labels

_27A7349

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 2.14.22 PMAds and postcards from the winery’s archives

_27A7540The winery is open for tours on history of the premises and the basics of wine-making

_27A7345

_27A7496 copy

_27A8042Despite barcodes, locals still use chalk to identify wine and vintage

_27A7249

_27A8051Empty bottles

_27A7927The modern production facility where wine is made and packed

_27A8040 copy

_27A8067 copy

_27A7761Each tour at the winery ends with a tasting of labels in season

_27A7654 copy

_27A7631

_27A7892 copyResearch room filled with wine bottles in all forms and shapes

_27A8082Winemakers Philip Dunsmore and Bob Barrow

_27A8089

_27A8249


map-arthurious

How to get there
Brotherhood winery is located at 100 Brotherhood Plaza Dr, Washingtonville, NY (2-hour car ride from Manhattan)
brotherhood-winery.com

Hours
Sunday to Friday 11 a.m.—5 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m.—7 p.m.

Tours and tasting — $10
Monday—Friday 11:30, 1, 2, and 3:30 p.m.
Weekends as groups gather.

Upcoming event
Wine & Beer Festival
Saturday, July 9, 1—5 p.m.
More about the event

Win A Tee

Join thousands of New Yorkers who subscribe to my weekly culture newsletter for your chance to win.
No spam, just culture