Hoppy Beerthday, Andrew!
When you live in San Diego, something takes over you and you automatically become a beer snob. Don't get me wrong. I still love a good COOOOOOORRRSS. That's right, I said it. Something about those blue mountains, ya know?
Okay, but in all seriousness the beer scene in San Diego is actually pretty rad. Everyone we meet is super down to earth and just plain good people. I am so fortunate to have meet Kristine, who is the main BOSS LADY behind the Women Craft Beer Collective. She organizes all types of fun events for us craft beer loving ladies so when she told me about a day of hop picking... well, I had to go... obvi. It also ended up being an amazing top secret birthday surprise for my husband, Andrew! Not to mention we made some new friends!
Tucked away in North County San Diego is a little town called Fallbrook. It has cute ranch style homes with a ton of land. There my husband and I had the opportunity to visit one of the handful of hop farms in San Diego County. Gary & Corie Johndro are the owners of the the farm and warmly welcome small groups to harvest their hops.
What an experience! First of all, I never knew hops were much like grapes in that there is a certain time of the year to harvest them (August-September). I also never knew they grew on bines! That's right BINES not VINES. Apparently bine plants climb up by their shoots in a helix form, while vines use tendrils or suckers to grow out. Who knew?! (Also, don't fact check me... this is only what I kind of remember).
It was amazing to learn about all of the work that is put in to grow hops. Such as once the bines get to a certain length, they get wrapped around rope and they start to grow up for about 4-5 months. Many of the bines can get up to 25ft high! See below.
After the bines have been cut down, well... we sit there and pick off each hop individually. San Diego Breweries such as Pure Project and Coronado Brewing Company even come up to help as well as purchase some fresh hops! I mention them because they were there the day I was and I am SUPER excited to try their wet hop beers!