NorCal Hop Growers Alliance Meeting

2016 has been a wild year and for many reasons we cant wait to kick off 2017. We'd like to welcome our newest members and invite everyone to our first meeting on Monday, January 23rd at 6:30 pm at Fogbelt Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. We are going to coordinate a group buy for coir rope and present some sources for other trellis building materials. Now is a good time to start dialing in your hopyard plans. Depending on your design, you will need 1 or 2 pieces of coir per hill (plant). 


We will also be coordinating a group buy for rhizomes that will be taking place in March. Please bring any questions about varieties to the meeting and we can discuss the relative benefits. 


Last year our hop growing seminar was a great success, and we'd like to host another seminar this coming spring. This event will require a lot of planning and help, so are going to start the process now. 


Also, this year we are gonna mix up the format for meetings a little and include some meetings and tours at member breweries and hopyards. We are also going to be sending out a newsletter to our members and start featuring member brewers and farmers.



If you have been thinking about joining and growing hops, now is a great time start. Take advantage of our collective knowledge take part in bringing hops back to Northern California. 

Join Us for the 1st Ever Sonoma County Hop Growing Seminar

Growing Hops on the North Coast of California

Learn what it takes to produce hops for the micro-brew industry

Hops used to be one of the main crops grown here, but the industry died out in the late 1950’s. Now there’s a renewed demand for locally grown, specialty varieties of fresh hops.

Saturday March 26th - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm SRJC Shone Farm Pavilion 7450 Steve Olson Lane, Forestville, CA 95436

$45 when registering by March 21, $65 after March 21. Includes a tasting of beverages made with different varieties of hops – and lunch.



8:00 to 8:30: Registration and coffee + snacks

8:30 to 9:30: Hop Production History, Economics, and the Feasibility of Growing Hops Now. Paul Vossen, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Sonoma and Marin Counties

9:30 to 10:30: Botany, Varieties, and Growing Hops. Jason Perrault, Hop Breeder – Select Botanicals and Director of Sales and Marketing Perrault Farms, Inc. Toppenish, WA

10:30: BREAK

10:45 to 11:30: The Contribution of Hops to Beer Flavor, Growing Hops Locally, and the Potential Market for Locally Grown Fresh Hops. Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewery, Santa Rosa, CA.

11:30 to Noon: Mechanical Harvest of Hops. Tom Frazer, Dauenhauer Mfg.; Inc. - Hailey, Idaho

Noon-12:30: Tasting of Malt Beverages made with Different Hop Varieties

12:30-1:30 Lunch (catered)

1:30-3:00: Local Experiences in Growing Hops on a Smallscale + Business, Logistics, and Brewing with Fresh Hops – Panel of Local Growers/Brewers. Michael Stevenson – Warm Spring Wind Farm; Layla Aguilar – Bi Rite Farm; Lorren Lancaster - Carneros Brewery; Paul Hawley - Fog Belt Brewery, Matt Penpraze - 3 Disciples Brewery and Marty and Claudia Kuchinski of HOPS-MEISTER.

3:00 to 5:00 Travel to Warm Spring Wind Hop Farm for a tour of small-scale hop production and discussion of field growing techniques. Michael Stevenson.


Paul Vossen: is the University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor for Sonoma and Marin Counties. He has extensive experience working with the local specialty crops industry since 1981. He has indepth knowledge of North Coast soils and climatic conditions for helping farmers determine the feasibilities for growing different types of crops on their land. He grew hops on his farm in Windsor, studied the history of local hop production, wrote a publication on “Growing Hops in California” many years ago, and he visited Yakima, WA twice last year to study hop production and processing in that region.

Jason Perrault: Born and raised on a hop farm in the Yakima Valley, Jason is a fourth generation grower with Perrault Farms, Inc. He is also the CEO for Select Botanicals Group, LLC (partner member of Hop Breeding Co.) where he has been breeding novel hop varieties for the brewing industry since 1997.

Vinnie Cilurzo: is co-owner with his wife Natalie of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. He has been a professional brewer since 1994 when he opened Blind Pig Brewing Company in Temecula, CA and has been homebrewing since 1989. After selling his shares of Blind Pig, Vinnie and Natalie moved to Sonoma County in 1997 where he began brewing for Korbel Champagne Cellars' new brewery, Russian River Brewing Company where he also grew hops on their 1/4 hopyard. After six years, Korbel decided to get out of the beer business altogether and gave Vinnie the brand in lieu of severance. After writing a business plan and convincing friends and family to invest in their brewery, Vinnie and Natalie re-opened Russian River as a brewpub in Downtown Santa Rosa on April 3, 2004. Four years later, they opened a production brewery not far from the pub which allowed them to distribute more beer. Along with their 100 employees, both their brewpub and production brewery are brewing at 100%. They are now planning a new production brewery which would include a second brewpub with hopes of growing hops again as well. In 2008 Vinnie was honored with the Brewers Association Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing. Vinnie and Natalie live in Santa Rosa and enjoy their life in beautiful Sonoma County, CA.

Tom Frazer: is the President of Dauenhauer Manufacturing Inc. Founded in 1940 by Florian Dauenhauer, it remains the leading builder of large scale hop harvesting equipment with installations throughout the world. Dauenhauer employs 17 craftsmen at its plant in Toppenish, Washington who produce, install and support the harvesters that bear our name plate. Frazer is a graduate of Stanford University and lives in Hailey, Idaho with his son and three ill-behaved dogs.

Michael Stevenson: studied psychology at UC Berkeley and completed his masters in nursing at USF in 2014. He currently works in neurosciences at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Mike and his wife, biologist Francis Hourigan, are both Sebastopol natives who currently live in west Sonoma County on their small, four acre Warm Spring Wind Farm. They have both been gardening and developing their sustainable farming practices for the past eight years but began growing hops in the beginning of 2015. They currently manage about a quarter acre of hops with six different varieties so far. They also manage a small heirloom cider apple orchard and plan to expand their acreage this year. WSW Farm focuses on responsible growing practices that minimize effects on the surrounding lands and waters. In mid-2015, Mike founded the NorCal Hop Growers Alliance in attempts to bring other small-scale hop growers together, sharing resources and knowledge. The NHG Alliance now has several members representing hop yards in a diverse set of local climate conditions in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties. The organization's goal is to make hop growing successful in this area once again, and provide high quality ingredients to local craft breweries while maintaining responsible land stewardship.

Lorren Lancaster: has been in the craft brewing industry for over twenty years. He has been on the hop selection team for Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, California and Deschutes Brewing of Bend, Oregon. Lorren is the Head Brewer at Carneros Brewing in Sonoma and also tends their on-site hop yard.

Layla Aguilar: farms three acres in Sonoma for Bi Rite Markets based in SF. For the past three years, she has expanded production to include specialty vegetables, herbs, flowers, hops and culinary mushrooms. She studied organic horticulture at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in Santa Cruz.

Paul Hawley: grew up in Sonoma County and has been making wine alongside his dad and brother for over ten years. The old saying that "it takes a lot of beer to make wine" rings especially true as Paul started homebrewing while working a grape harvest in New Zealand with Fogbelt Co-owner, Remy Martin. The two opened Fogbelt Brewing Co in 2013 and have been featuring beers made with locally grown hops in their taproom. Paul farms 1/4 acre of hops on his family's vineyard in Healdsburg and works with other small hop farmers in the area.

Matt Penpraze: is Co-Founder and Co-Owner of 3 Disciples Brewing. He was born and raised in Sonoma County, California. With an avid gardener and a winemaker for parents, Matt developed an appreciation for both agriculture and fermentation. After brewing on a small-scale for years, Matt along with his friends Luke Melo and James Claus started what would become 3 Disciples Brewing. In the beginning, they planted a few Cascade and Centennial rhizomes on their Sebastopol property. They have since expanded their hop yard to include 7 different varieties and will continue to plant an array of distinctive hops for their innovative ales. As well as hops, they grow barley, pumpkins, strawberries and an assortment of other ingredients for their beers. 3 Disciples Brewing will offer up their first beers in the spring of 2016. Matt is married to his wonderful wife Kari and they celebrated the birth of their son Harrison in 2015.

Marty and Claudia Kuchinski: of HOPS-MEISTER, LLC is a family owned farm located in Northern California specializing in both Certified Organic and Sustainable estate grown hops for the microbrewing community. HOPS-MEISTER offers fresh picked hops each AUGUST for your fresh hop beers, followed by whole leaf and vacuum sealed pellets, all processed on site.