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.
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.
A 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.
One of the cellars at Brotherhood Winery
Champagne bottles are stored upside down and rotated regularly. The chalk marks help identify the bottles that need to be turned
The cellars at the winery also served as Fallout Shelter
Century-old bottles of wine are carefully preserved
Before the process was automated, wine casks had to be manually cleaned from the inside
The lights at the cellar
Brotherhood’s own collection of vintage labels
Ads and postcards from the winery’s archives
The winery is open for tours on history of the premises and the basics of wine-making
Despite barcodes, locals still use chalk to identify wine and vintage
The modern production facility where wine is made and packed
Each tour at the winery ends with a tasting of labels in season
Research room filled with wine bottles in all forms and shapes
Winemakers Philip Dunsmore and Bob Barrow
How to get there
Brotherhood winery is located at 100 Brotherhood Plaza Dr, Washingtonville, NY (2-hour car ride from Manhattan)
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.
Wine & Beer Festival
Saturday, July 9, 1—5 p.m.
More about the event