NW Harvest with the Hogue’s
It is harvest time in the NW. And Prosser the “birthplace” of Washington’s wine industry is in full speed reaping it’s beautiful and abundant bounty.
I had the opportunity to tour Prosser with one of it’s legendary farmers and former mayors-Wayne Hogue. Wayne Hogue is the father of Mike Hogue best known for Hogue Cellars and Mercer Estate Wines and the Grandfather of Jeff Hogue a third generation Hogue farmer in the area.
Wayne Hogue and his wife Shyla aka barracuda started farming in the early 1940’s. In the day, Shyla was known as a shrewd business person. The couple worked hard to scrape together enough money to buy their first 80 acres. They planted hops. And if you ask Wayne hops is the crop that put Prosser on the map.
Sr. Hogue is an affable character that at 4 months shy of 90 has as much energy and vigor as many 20 year olds. A lifetime of hard work, ingenuity and giving back to the community beams through each detail of his colorful stories.
On our tour we stopped suddenly as a grape harvester powered over grape vines. Wayne explained to us that he was the first farmer to bring the grape harvester to Prosser.
After commandeering the tour from Wayne we briefly stopped at my brothers property. Currently this property has been planted in hay but it to will soon have rows of wine grapes. After that segue we went to Jeff Hogue’s property and picked beautiful Fuji apples. They were the most amazing apples. Until you’ve tasted an apple fresh off of the tree you haven’t tasted an apple.
Wayne then directed us to his original 80 acres and the hops processing machine he originally saw in California. Through some luck and special owner financing he was once again able to be the first farmer to bring this elaborate hops machine to Prosser. Hops processing is an intricate operation. The workers brought fresh hops from the field. Ropes lifted the vines and the hops would wind there way through a shake down, a conveyor belt and then were spit out and bagged. OK…there was more to it but that is about the best description a none farming girl can give.
Back at The Barn Motor Inn and Restaurant an iconic gathering spot for all the locals we met up with Jeff Hogue. Jeff Hogue is a “salt of the earth” farmer. He had spent the day harvesting grapes. Sitting side by side you could see a proud grandfather who has successfully passed on his farming acumen to a third generation. And a proud grandson knowing he has quite a legacy to live up to.
Wayne summarized the day best by having us stand in the middle of The Barn restaurant and sing “when you are happy and you know it clap your hands” I have a feeling my friends and I were not the first to sing this song with him in the middle of this restaurant.
Our harvest tour didn’t quite end there. The next day Jeff Hogue arranged for us to actually drive one of the grape harvesters. I will have to say there is nothing like driving one of those machines in the sunshine and smelling the grapes as they are picked or I guess shaken from the vine. I’m ready to quit my day job!
Places to Stay
The local classic –The Barn and Motor Inn
Places to Eat