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for people who care about the West

A hops harvest that grows bigger each year

Washington’s Yakima Valley supports many of the craft breweries in the U.S.

 

If Napa Valley, California, is the wine region of the country, then Washington’s Yakima Valley should be called the beer region of the world. The area is home to family farms that have specialized in hops production for generations. The crop has been perfected in this part of the country since the late 1800s, gaining the valley a global reputation for its product. It’s the region’s combination of a semi-arid climate, fertile soil and plentiful water that make the plant so prolific: The valley grows 75 percent of the hops in the United States. Washington may be the center of the country’s production, but other Western states, including Idaho and Oregon, are also ramping up their output as the general population’s fascination with craft beers grows.

In 2017, a whopping 104 million pounds of hops were produced in the U.S., accounting for a 20 percent increase in plant yields, according to the Department of Agriculture. Wyoming-based photographer Sofia Jaramillo, who photographs people and places around the West, captured some shots from a hops harvest at the CLS Farms in Moxee, Washington, located in the Yakima Valley. The harvest runs from the end of August through September. —Jessica Kutz, editorial intern