Brotherhood, America’s Oldest Winery
100 Brotherhood Plaza Dr.
Brotherhood Winery began crafting its vintages here in New York’s Hudson Valley back when Martin Van Buren was President of what was then a nation of 17 million people in 26 states.
That was 1839, and Brotherhood is still fermenting its wines in the Washingtonville, N.Y. location. The words “America’s Oldest Winery” are now part of its name.
While creating popular, award-winning wines is still the Brotherhood’s main mission, the gem in Orange County’s crown is so much more.
“This is a destination,” said Brotherhood President Hernan Donoso. “We offer tours. People can sit for a tasting and visit the restaurant. Throughout the summer, we have live music every Saturday and Sunday. Guests can spend hours here.”
The fascinating, entertaining tours take visitors through the 19th century, hand-excavated cellars still in use, housing more than 200 oak barrels, including those holding some of the oldest vintages in America. Guides reveal the vaults’ secrets, explain the wine-making process from grape to glass – and relate tall tales of folly and tragedy.
In the winery’s store, visitors can buy wines, serving platters, vintage wine bottle openers and more. The Grand Monarque Hall hosts corporate events and weddings. The rustic American eatery, 1839 Restaurant and Bar, offers everything from classic burgers to “more sophisticated choices,” Donoso said.
Brotherhood taps New York State regions from Long Island to the Finger Lakes for its grapes, fermenting the white wines in stainless steel and the reds in a 19th century cellar that holds more than 200 oak barrels. The Finger Lakes region is the source of grapes for its flagship wines, the Rieslings. (The sweet versions are especially popular.)
Others include reds such as cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir and whites such as chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, as well as rosés, sparkling wines and varietals. Specialty offerings include Holiday spiced wine, May and Rosario wines and Carroll’s Mead, the honey wine that is the official mead of the New York Renaissance Faire, another Orange County highlight.
Brotherhood has continued producing wines for more than 180 years, through the Civil War, the Great Depression and both world wars. During Prohibition, it produced medicinal and sacramental wines, as the law allowed. A devastating 1999 fire hindered an expansion of the winery, but did not stop it.
In 2000, the winery was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
On its website, the winery’s management team says; “We are proud of Brotherhood Winery’s rich heritage and today continue to provide quality products using eco-friendly energy, high-end technology and a great winemaking team – the perfect blend to satisfy a sophisticated consumer in a highly competitive market.”