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Story of Brotherhood Book Cover

The Story of Brotherhood

When legend becomes fact, the old Hollywood adage goes, print the legend. For Brotherhood Winery, which produced its first documented vintage in 1839, legend and history intertwine. Its stories have been told and re-told, gaining scope and dimension. Some have been exaggerated beyond recognition.

The true facts about Brotherhood have confused many people for many years. Is Brotherhood really the oldest winery in the United States? Who was the founder, and was he a Scottish emigrant, a French Huguenot, or a cloistered monk? Where did the name Brotherhood actually come from? How did the winery survive Prohibition? Did Brotherhood truly invent wine tourism? And how did it become the premium winery it is today?

In THE STORY OF BROTHERHOOD, Robert Bedford sets the record straight, and explores the remarkable past of the country’s oldest winery. The book celebrates nearly 175 years of captivating history, and commemorates its owners and stakeholders who contributed to the winery’s longevity through loyalty, perseverance, innovation, and sheer imagination.

A remarkable collection of rare images vividly illustrate the evocative text, stories and anecdotes as well as the facts with over 350 photographs, labels, documents, memorabilia, and advertisements. Culled from private and public collections, and carefully restored by the author, most of the images and documents have never been published before, or seen outside of Brotherhood Winery.

With this combination of insight and imagery, THE STORY OF BROTHERHOOD, AMERICA’S OLDEST WINERY unfolds through eras of grit and glamour. It is as comprehensive as it is pioneering; a major contribution to the history of wine making and wine production in New York and the United States.

It is a privilege to recognize the historical importance of Brotherhood Winery as told through The Story of Brotherhood, America’s Oldest Winery.

– Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator


The Jaques Family • 1839 – 1886

John Jaques, a cobbler by trade, began growing native grapes in the backyard of his Washingtonville, NY store as early as 1824. By 1835, he had established a large vineyard, selling his grapes in the New York City market. As prices dropped, Jaques turned instead toward making wine, releasing his first commercial vintage in 1839, under the label “Blooming Grove Winery.”

As an elder in his Washingtonville Presbyterian Church, Jaques initially produced wine for sacramental use, but from the first vintage the wine quickly developed a reputation for purity, “free of alcoholic adulterations.” These qualities brought Jaques’ wines into great prominence.

In 1858, Jaques passed the operation on to his three sons, John Jr., Oren and Charles. First renamed “John Jaques Jr. & Brothers,” and then “Jaques Brothers Winery,” the three brothers expanded the vineyards and increased production to 15 different styles of wine, keeping roughly 35,000 gallons of wine, port and brandy in storage in their hand-dug underground cellars.

The Jaques Brothers Winery continued to prosper until, in 1886, ill health forced Charles Jaques, the last surviving Jaques brother, to sell the entire winery and vineyards to New York City wine merchants J. M. Emerson & Son.


ORIGINS • 1839-1886


“The desire for gain never influenced my father to run a vintage that had not thoroughly matured. The purity of our wines was our pride and first consideration.”

-John Jaques


The Emerson Years • 1886–1920

Wine merchants Jesse M. Emerson and son Edward purchased the Jaques Brothers Winery in 1886.  As previous agents for the upstate religious community known as the “Brotherhood of New Life,” the Emersons renamed the new facility the “Brotherhood Wine Company” to capitalize on the success of the Brotherhood brand name and reputation.

The Emersons quickly expanded the winery, adding several stone buildings and additional underground vaults to accommodate increased production of table wines, brandies and sherries, and distilled spirits.  Their focus on champagnes, made in the traditional French style known as methodé champenoise-fermented in the bottle-brought increased attention and exposure to Brotherhood wines.  Edward R. Emerson broadened the business by establishing a shipping point and headquarters in New York City, and obtaining vineyards and wine cellars in Hammondsport, NY.

With its modern facilities and continued commitment to quality, Brotherhood’s sales increased exponentially well into the 20th century. Even with the rise of the Temperance Movement, the Brotherhood Wine Company continued to prosper, until Prohibition was enacted in 1920.



“… It is acknowledged by physicians that the use of claret as a steady drink will soon reform the most confirmed user of brandy or whiskey.”

-Edward R. Emerson


The Louis L. Farrell Years • 1920–1947

After the enactment of Prohibition, on January 17, 1920, Edward Emerson and new partner Louis L. Farrell reorganized as “The Brotherhood Corporation.”  They began producing medicinal and sacramental wines, as allowed by law.  Brotherhood was able to maintain production with its own vines in Washingtonville, and by acquiring another vineyard in California’s prestigious Livermore Valley.  Regular tank car shipments of wine from the west coast also ensured a regular supply of wine to keep up with demand.

After Emerson’s death in December 1924, Brotherhood continued to prosper under the able direction of co-owner Louis L. Farrell.  However, production was drastically reduced as the nation entered the difficult economic years of the Great Depression.

With repeal of Prohibition on December 5, 1933, Brotherhood released its stock of 1915 champagne-nearly 500,000 bottles which had been cellared during Prohibition.  As renewed production began on table and sparkling wines, Brotherhood concentrated on several varieties of sherries and aperitifs throughout World War II, despite diminishing consumer preferences for wine.

Louis Farrell Sr. died in 1947, leaving the winery to his son “Junior,” who died tragically three months later.



“We have always run our business above board and as long as I am living this is what I will do, as I don’t believe a man will have any luck in the end by doing otherwise.”

-Louis L. Farrell


The Farrell Family • 1947–1987

In 1947, Brotherhood Winery officially passed on to one of Louis Farrell Jr.’s cousins, Francis L. Farrell, who would lead the winery into the prosperous post-WWII era.

Francis and his wife Eloise transitioned Brotherhood from a winemaking facility into a tourist destination, establishing the concept of “wine tourism.”  Beginning in the 1960s, after decades of changing consumer tastes and declining wine sales, Brotherhood was rebranded as “Americas Oldest Winery, and began offering free wine tastings and tours.

The Farrells organized themed parties and regular weekly events that drew hundreds of thousands to the winery annually, introducing the Brotherhood brand to generations of American drinkers.  Brotherhood continued to produce table and sparkling wines, all of which were sold on the premises. A diverse selection was offered, from both traditional native grapes as well as the newly-popular French-American hybrids.  As word spread of the tastings and parties taking place in the historic winery with its century-old underground vaults, Brotherhood Winery quickly became a major tourist attraction in the Hudson Valley and New York State.

The party atmosphere continued until the 1980s, when a crippling recession, record high interest rates, and ever-changing consumer tastes affected tourism and wine sales, and Brotherhood was forced to reduce production.



“It is always surprising to find how many people still have only a nodding acquaintance with wine. And this holds true here in New York State, famous as it is for its superb wines”

-Francis L. Farrell



In 1987, a partnership of local businessmen purchased Brotherhood Winery, including winemaker Cesar Baeza, with two goals: restore its reputation as a prime tourist destination in the Hudson Valley, and increase production with a new line of premium wines.  Internationally known as a wine master, Baeza set about creating premium wines from single vinifera varietals, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling.

Retaining the old favorites were important to Brotherhood’s legacy, as production continued on older specialties such as Holiday Spiced Wine, Rosario, May Wine, Cream Sherry, and Port. Brotherhood also revived the line of methodé champenoise-style champagne, releasing their Grand Monarque Cuvee in 1990.

In its efforts to become a premier New York State destination, Brotherhood Winery also focused on tourism and hospitality. The winery revived some of its grand, legendary parties, and created new events, including daily historical tours.

On January 7, 1999, a devastating fire at Brotherhood nearly destroyed the winery’s historic buildings.  Fortunately, the winemaking and storage facilities, as well as the underground vaults, were not harmed.  Sales continued, and rebuilding began immediately.

In 2000, Brotherhood Winery was designated an historic landmark, and added to the New York State and National registers of historic places.



“I believe New York can make quality red wines, but we have to convince the world.”

-Cesar Baeza



The disastrous 1999 fire, which damaged several historic buildings, slowed Brotherhood’s expansion for several years. In 2005, a new partnership was formed between Cesar Baeza and the families of Luis Chadwick and Pablo Castro, who have deep roots in the famous winegrowing region of Maule Valley in Chile.

The new Board of Directors, led by Chairman Luis Chadwick, and a new management team immediately embarked on a massive restoration and renovation program at Brotherhood Winery.  The partnership also reinvigorated an interest in producing quality wines keeping the winery at the forefront of the New York wine industry.

This included equipment upgrades, increased tanked capacity, planting of new vines, a new warehouse, and renovation of all facilities, including the catering hall, sales room, gift shop, mansion, and the installation of an 80kW solar array on the roof of the winery’s production facility.

The establishment of a new restaurant and the restoration of the Grand Monarque Hall as a 6,000 square foot catering facility were designed to accommodate a wide variety of events and gatherings.

The partners’ commitment to improving one of the Hudson Valley’s premiere wineries, and their dedication to the production of a new line of award-winning premium wines, is building Brotherhood Winery’s reputation far beyond the American wine market.



“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.”

-Brotherhood Team