Brotherhood Winery Visit


                     Main Gate.  IMG_2264[1]       IMG_2258[1]                                                                               IMG_2262[1]

Brotherhood winery has a very rich history of wine production which encompasses the history of wine production in America and about four eras of ownership. The history dates back to 1810 when Jean Jacques a French Huguenot bought land in Hudson Valley and planted grapes. Mr. Jacques original intent and interest was to be a farmer, and he raised money to buy his first land by working as a shoes and boot maker. In 1839 his first vintage wine was fermented in underground cellars that were dug then and they are still in use today. Mr. Jacques produced wine for almost 50 years until 1886 when he sold the winery to Emerson. IMG_2224[1]

Emerson was a merchant vintner who bought Mr. Jaques high quality wine to blend and improve wine from The Brotherhood of new life organization. It is the Emerson family that renamed the winery Brotherhood winery after acquiring ownership a name that stands up to date.The Emerson family operated until 1921 when the prohibition began and sold the winery to Louis Farrell with its large stock of sacramental wines. IMG_2227[1] As a condition of purchase Mr. Louis Farrell asked for exemption from the government to continue production of altar wine. It is this exemption that enabled the Brotherhood winery to survive the prohibition and continue grape growing and wine production when wineries across America were closed down and vineyards uprooted. During the prohibition which I learnt is called “the coming of the drought” by wine makers the number of clergy in Washingtonville greatly increased as the winery was legally allowed to produce and sell altar wine.. The Farrell family are credited in introducing the concept of tours to wineries when they realized the great potential of the winery proximity to New York and its unique underground dugout cellars, and started organizing tours of wine tasting, and the winery. Mr Cesar Baeza from Chile is the current owner with partnership of two wine making families, Castro and Chadwick having bought the winery from 1987.

The Chapel. IMG_2220[1] IMG_2218[1] The Presbyterian Chapel has an interesting part in the history of Brotherhood winery because it was one of the main buyer of wine between the year 1859 -1887 when the market prices fell and Mr Jacques opted to concentrate on Altar wines rather than close down.   IMG_2229[1]

GRAPES AND VINEYARD IMG_2257[1] IMG_2254[1] The winery doesn’t have any vineyard on the property except a few lines of the varieties(Robrusca, Concord, Chardonnay, Niagra and Cabernet blanc) they grow in their eighty hectares of land in Catskill/Hudson valley. And a few lines of a new clone they are developing with an agricultural institute. Most of the grapes used are bought in North folk, Finger Lakes and Long Island, I.e. Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Budding of the vines starts in June and harvest takes place in September, latest early October.


The winery uses  stainless steel and oak barrels. Huge casks that can hold up to 700 gallons of wine are no longer in use, they now use small barrels that hold 50 gallons. They use both French Oak and American Oak. French oak is used for the soft flavors like vanilla, fruity and toasted almonds, whereas American oak is for the heavier flavor like chocolate and tobacco. White wines are made in the stainless steel because it doesn’t change flavors and makes the wine crispy. Wine is tasted once a fortnight as it ages until the winemaker obtains the flavors desired. How light or heavy the barrels are charred, the length of time, transfer from one barrel to the other and yeast contributes to flavors. Below are the underground cellars starting with the casks and the current barrels in use barrels in use.

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Brut Champagne in riddling palettes going through the process of Methode Champenoise.



Bottling is done in the winery and they use three different types of caps. They use the traditional cork which is associated with premium and expensive wines by most people, and synthetic corks.The third  type of cork is screw cap to which some people associate with cheap wines. The winery also does bottling for other small wineries or individual people. They also offer individual or custom made bottling, corking and labeling  for special events and social occasions like graduations and weddings.


The winery makes and sells thirty two different kinds of wines. Most of the consumers are in the state of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. They sell online and ship to all states in America except in States prohibited by law. It was interesting to learn that there are states that legislate against their sale of wine; there weren’t more details offered as to why. Among the traditional wines they make is NY Red, NY rose, NY White. In Specialty wines they have, May Wine, Rosario, Holiday, Sweet Lolly Red, Sweet Lolly White, Carroll’s Mead and Sheba Te’j. In Dessert wines is Ruby and Cream Sherry. The premium red wines are Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Premium White Varietals are Chardonnay, Riesling, Dry Riesling and white Zinfandel. The Sparkling wines are “B” Sparkling, Blanc de Blancs, Carpe diem, Grand Mornaque, NY Sparkling and Saphir Rose. Below are the wines available for sale and their prices. Riesling is the top selling wine followed by Pinot Noir, Carpe Diem and Blanc de Blanc. IMG_2253[1]   IMG_2252[1] IMG_2251[1] IMG_2250[1]


The winery offers tasting at a fee of $5.00 dollars and $10 dollars for tour, tasting and a souvenir glass of wine. There are 10 wines available for tasting but one choses five out of the ten. I chose Riesling, Pinot Noir, Blanc de Blancs, Sweet Lolly White and Ruby Port. I liked the Blanc de Blanc which pair well with cheeses and as an appetizer. made from 100% chardonnay it was crisp and  fruity. Though port had a higher alcohol content, I liked the balance between the sweet and alcoholic taste. Sweet Lolly White was spicy and had a long finish, it pairs well with spicy food, Indian, Mexican and Sushi. Sweet Lolly White was a favorite of President Clinton administration after it won a during a contest at the White House. Pinot Noir was tannic and oaky and was recommended for anything especially when one is unsure of which wine to pair with.


According to Ms. Janet who was our tour guide there is more inclination to sweeter wines rather than the tannic and strong flavors. On the global wine market USA is the leading consumer of wine from 2011, but she observed that China is quickly catching up.

It was an eye opening and educative tour that left me curious and interested in more knowledge in viticulture and oenology. Ms. Janet and Mr. Kevin whom  I interacted with most were both professional and knowledgeable in the wine industry and the operation of the Brotherhood winery.


Crush Wine and Spirits is located at 153 E 57th st New York, 10022. crush has been in operation since 2005 and is owned by Robert Schagrin and Drew Nieporent amongst others. the hours of operation are from 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm Monday to Friday, 11:00am – 8:00 pm Saturdays and 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm on Sundays. Crush is a busy store and has 25 staff overall that is including the warehouse, and on any single day there are about 16 staff on duty. On this particular day that I visited at around 5:00 pm on Thursday 8th of April there were about seven visible staff on the floor. 2 cashiers upon entry, two sommeliers busy on their computers that are mounted along the center of the store, two staff in an open back office and one cleaner. The store signage and name are well placed for easy identification as shown below.


Upon entry I was taken aback by a sight that suggested I had stepped into a shoe shiner office than a national wine store.The desk and two cashiers on the immediate left when one enters looked to me displaced. I didn’t understand why being a hospitality industry the first sight is cluttered desk rather than being welcomed by inviting and hospitable staff. The second disappointment was that the staff seemed more busy on their computers and with little time for incoming customers. The two cashiers threw a quick glance at me and resumed their work on their computers. I walked up to the center of the store before anyone spoke to me, and I couldn’t help wondering why everyone seemed so busy on their computers. I  was to learn later that, online business is their cash cow.

Crush clientele; about 70% of their business is done online and through the phone, the rest is walk in customers and that is why my presence wasn’t generating much interest. I also noticed that customers who came in seemed well versed with the store and picked their choice and headed to the cashiers. This was a big difference from other wine stores I have visited where staff greet you at the door and have time for customers. The other type of customers are co-operate accounts, but they don’t supply to hotels and restaurants.

Crush wine: Is high quality wine and value-priced sourced from the major wine producing regions of the world. The store focuses on “specialty” wines from the major producers.

Our selection is diverse, but the common theme that unites many of our wine & spirits is their limited production. These wines & spirits are hand-crafted by independent producers whose care and attention is reflected in their individual quality. While a volume-driven producer can ship as many as 4 million cases per year, many of our winemakers produce less than 5,000 cases during the same amount of time. We also carry a wide selection of “friendly faces” that many of our customers are familiar with, all priced competitively with other New York area shops.

The major regions featured amongst others are :- France; Burgundy, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Alsace, Champagne, Rhone valley and South France. Italy; Central, North and southern Italy. Germany:- Baden, Franken, Nahe and mosel. USA:- Californua, Washington, New York and Oregon. And wines from Austria, New Zealand, Portugal and  Spain.



Display: As the two picture above shows all the wines are displayed by region and grape variety with well written region and varietal names along the top line for easy identification. Small detailed tags with vintage, producer, appellation, wine name and price hang next to each bottle. The price range is from $10:00 -$70:00 and from $70:00 – $1000.00 dollars. The store display and ambience is good and customer friendly paired with good background music that is not noisy nor too faint.

Benefits and Sales: Crush doesn’t do “marketing” but rather has cocktail tastings for spirits every Friday and wine tasting once a month. One distinguishing aspect about wine tasting is that it is always thematic, i.e. every tasting experience is themed along grape variety, region or producer.

Recommendations: Even though it is not to have a reception “per se” the reception area should reflect a welcoming presence or staff should create that atmosphere, that “we are glad to have you here”. Overall the store is well stocked, displayed, and run. The sommelier I spoke to Jared Ramsey was well versed with and knowledgeable in all the areas I enquired about having worked for eight years in the wine industry. Though I couldn’t help feel that he was economical with information so that he could go back to his work, but at the same time being professional.