Thursday, August 23, 2012

Field of Dreams

Horizontal this year, vertical next year 
Willamette Valley commercial hop growing one day may be rivaled by crops raised here in the Umpqua Valley: Melrose Vineyards winemaker Cody Parker planted three acres of Centennial hops last June on a patch of land between one of his vineyards and the Umpqua River.
Irrigating from the Umpqua River

“I threw all the plants down on a credit card to try to make something from nothing, said Parker.”

Just as grapes from different regions give wines unique flavor profiles, Parker wants to develop a distinct Umpqua Valley hops character for craft brewing.  "I want to grow our own community, to have a terroir of beers." 
Hops good, weeds bad

Now that the rhizomes are established, 18 foot trellises must be erected for the plants to creep up.

Besides the capital outlay to build the trellises out of lodge poles, cable, and turnbuckles, Parker wants to invest in a Wolf 140, a German-made automated processor to take the intensity out of the labor of manual picking.

The winemaker doesn't plan to rip out grape vines to plant hop bines, but he does have long term ambitions to put another 30 acres under cultivation. Just as beer and wine are suitable on the same table, hops can be grown next to grapes in an Umpqua Valley field of dreams.

The future of processing hops in the Umpqua Valley:

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