A blog about Brotherhood feels like a blog about the history of the American wine industry. Established in 1839, it’s been making wine for longer than California has been part of the United States. It survived prohibition by making medicinal and church wine. It even pioneered modern wine tourism; apparently this was quite the party spot ‘back in the day’. So next time you visit a winery, you can thank Brotherhood for inspiring that idea.
Today, Brotherhood is owned by a South American wine consortium and gets grapes from mostly New York but really everywhere. I didn’t learn its production numbers, but I get the sense they do a lot of custom crush and bottling for other NY wineries. Brotherhood doesn’t own any vineyards though, so don’t show up expecting long rows of picture-perfect vines.
Brotherhood has a religious connection in their history, but not what you might think. No, they never had monks planting vines or stomping grapes. It’s much better than that – one of their founders sold wine to a cult! See, not far from them was spiritual commune called “the Brotherhood of New Life”. This community had some interesting ideas, among which was that God is bi-sexual (I swear, I’m not making this up) and promoting the use tobacco. Anyway, one of the winery owners liked this name so much he adopted part of it, hence the winery became “Brotherhood”.
If you’re going to visit, make sure to do a tour first. The cellars – also dating back to 1839 – and are so big they actually doubled as a bomb shelter. PS – if you MUST utilize a bomb shelter, this is the one to stay in because it’s stocked with some of the most massive wine barrels that I’ve ever seen. The tour lasts about half an hour but it’s definitely worth it.
As for the wines, they are most famous for their Rieslings (a lot of fruit comes from Wagner Vineyards) but they sell everything from sweet wines to port-styles to Carménère and Pinot Noir.
Riesling: Sweet to semi-dry
Pinot Noir: Fruit came from Long Island; more medium than light, with some pepper notes.
Carignan: A little known Spanish or French grape; big mouthfeel
Carménère: Very spicy!
Port-style: Favorite of the lineup! Not sure what grapes it used, but it was amazing.