Vignette 19: Gayle Goschie

The Goschies planted their first crop of hops in the Willamette Valley in 1905. Today, grandaughter Gayle Goschie is one of the state's most visible and eloquent hop growers. Since we have just entered the hop harvest and I'm seeing photos and videos coming back from visits to the Goschie Farm, this is a perfect moment to listen to Gayle's words.

“There’s not a brewer I met that I don’t like--whether large or small brewers. Craft brewers are special. This is a unique experience for them, to have this direct connection. You really do get those eyes-wide-open, ‘man, I’ve just walked into a hop candy store’ thing when they come onto the farm. They’re much more wanting to get their hands—well, I guess I could say, get their hands green. They want to be able to get onto the drying floors and rub and sniff the hops at different points in drying. And to be able to be out and walk the fields and rub and sniff the fresh cones of the different varieties.”

I remember my father in the early 80s when Nugget was first coming out. It was considered a high alpha hop at 12%. I remember my dad making the comment at the time, ‘The FDA should come out and deem any hop over 8% alpha to be unsafe and unhealthy!’

“We’ve become experts at changing varieties thanks to the craft brewing industry. We have taken our farm from growing mostly one variety—Willamette—and cutting it in half and divided it up in a whole variety of ways. In Oregon—and it’s different in Yakima—we will plant the new variety in the spring time. And it won’t be until the next fall that we’ll be able to harvest the first crop.”

“Our biggest challenge in Oregon is because of that fabulous rain that we get that makes Oregon so green and gorgeous. But it also provides the perfect environment for downy mildew. Getting the hops up and growing healthy in the springtime, when you sometimes think the rain will never end—it’s just a challenge you don’t need to give yourself.”

Gayle Goschie, third from right, with visiting brewers from Birrificio Italiano.

VignetteJeff Alworth