As the oldest winery in the United States, we had to stop at Brotherhood Winery. Our sight-seeing tour of the Hudson Valley would not have been complete without it! Despite being almost 200 years old, this winery offers tours, tastings, events, wedding and celebration facilities, and even an on-site restaurant.
Historic Winery and What’s In a Name?
John Jaques, a cobbler by trade, began growing native grapes in his backyard in Washingtonville, NY store in 1824. Just over 10 years later, he had established a large vineyard. Thus, he had grapes to sell in New York City. Unfortunately, four years later, in 1839, prices dropped for grapes, so he turned to making wine. He releasing his first commercial vintage in 1839.
In 1858, the winery passed to Jaque’s three sons, John Jr., Oren and Charles. They renamed the winery and expanded the vineyards. They even increased production to 15 different styles of wine, keeping roughly 35,000 gallons of wine, port and brandy in storage in hand-dug underground cellars. But despite the three brothers running the winery, it didn’t get its current name from them.
Wine merchants Jesse M. Emerson and son Edward purchased the winery in 1886. As previous agents for the upstate religious community known as the “Brotherhood of New Life,” the Emersons renamed the winery the “Brotherhood Wine Company.”
The Tasting and More
There are a number of ways you can sample the wines at Brotherhood Winery. Go on the tour, go to the onsite restaurant, or simply amble on up to the wine room, and they’ll get you situated.
Each guest may choose 5 wines to taste from a constantly updated catalog of 10 wines in an unguided tasting option. Guests receive a one-ounce serving for each wine selected. The catalog of 10 wines offers a combination of varietal and traditional selections. We selected mostly white wines — I lean toward the sweeter, so I opted for sweet and a semi-sweet reislings, a strawberry wine, and a sparkling wine. My sister enjoys a more sophisticated palate, and leaned more into the drier wines, although she also sampled the sangria.
I was a bit disappointed by the tasting presentation. I prefer to stand at a tasting bar with a glass and a good tasting pour, but the pours came in small plastic cups, which don’t photograph all that well. However, they served us out on a shaded patio and we enjoyed the tasting. In fact, the wines I tried were all enjoyable, the service was good and the wines reasonably priced. We walked out with a box of wines, between us.
Know Before You Go
The tour, which we weren’t able to go on, takes 30 to 40 minutes. During the tour, you get to to go in their cellar, learn how they started and see all the old equipment they used. You will get to see their barrels of aging wine and tour the buildings. Although there are no vineyards, there are multiple places to sit and enjoy a bottle of wine. In addition, there’s a restaurant on the site as well. Please remember to bring your id, as you will not be served otherwise.
Guests with no reservation will be seated on a first-come-first-serve basis. No pets allowed inside the building.
Getting there: 100 Brotherhood Plaza Dr, Washingtonville, NY
Hours: Tastings are available Tuesday-Sunday; tours available Friday through Sunday. Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Website: Brotherhood Winery website
Looking for more wineries to visit? Check out these articles about wineries.