Grower Profile: Bernard, Steve, Darren, & Andrew Gamache, Virgil Gamache Farms
Bernard, Steve, Darren, & Andrew Gamache
Virgil Gamache Farms
“My earliest memory of the farm is playing in the mud in the front yard watching the overloaded hop trucks trundle by. I would grab a few of the fallen clusters and pile them on my toy trucks.”
Generations before a young Darren Gamache was practicing his craft in the front yard, his great-grandfather started growing hops on his Toppenish farm.
In 1932 Prohibition wasn’t officially over but its end was in sight, and breweries were starting to line up raw materials. Sensing the future, Albert Gamache purchased rootstock from a neighbor and planted 30 acres of Cluster.
Today, Virgil Gamache Farms (named for Albert’s son) is operated by third-generation family members Bernard and Steve and fourth-generation members Darren and Andy. Talking hops with Darren in the shadow of VGF’s large white processing buildings, it’s hard to not catch echoes of the excitement and anticipation that must have been in the air in 1932:
“For us the Holy Grail is to deliver the perfect hop … that isn’t achieved overnight. My hope for the future is that we continue to make inroads in the understanding of how hops react in the natural environment as well as in beer.”
Total acreage: 1,200+
Varieties grown: Amarillo®, Cashmere, Organic Amarillo®, Organic Nugget, Saaz, Sonnet™, Sorachi Ace, Styrian Celeia, Zeus, Challenger, Wurtenberger, and Tardif de Bourgogne.
Machinery/facilities: Harvesters: Dauenhauer and proprietor of (4) VGF designed harvesters Dryers: 12 Cooling Rooms: 10 Balers: 3 Pre and Post Harvest QC Lab
Farm certifications: Global Gap, Salmon Safe, Certified Organic Farmer, FSMA Compliant; ISO 17025 accredited by A2LA
Industry & trade memberships: Brewers Association, American Society of Brewing Chemists, Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Growers League, Master Brewers Association