Brotherhood: America’s Oldest Winery

Winemaking in the United States dates back to the early 1800s. Today, almost 175 years later, located in Washingtonville, New York (an hour north of Manhattan), Brotherhood Winery, America’s oldest winery, is still producing wine. From sacramental wines to commercial production, Brotherhood Winery is the oldest continuing winery in the United States.

Brotherhood Winery was first established in 1839 by Jean Jaques who began growing native grapes in 1809 in the backyard of his shoe store. Under the label “Blooming Grove Winery,” he produced wine for sacramental use. In 1863 Jaques passed the winery on to his sons who renamed it the “Jaques Brothers’ Winery.” A few years later, wine merchant J.M. Emerson & Son purchased the winery and renamed it “Brotherhood Wine Company.”

Prohibition was enacted in 1919 and while most American wineries shut down, Emerson continued to sell wines branded as the “Finest Medicinal and Sacramental Wines in America.” During the thirteen years of Prohibition, Brotherhood continued operation, maintaining its vineyards and coast-to-coast distribution. After Prohibition, the Farrell family took over the winery and ran it until 1987. During the period between Prohibition and 1987, Brotherhood also became a tourist destination, drawing thousands of guests annually to visit the underground cellars, the wine production and the picturesque site.

Read the full cover story from Beverage Industry News April 2013