Crafting high quality beer starts with a flower. Most beer enthusiasts, however, will only experience the bitter punch of hops in a mug. But at this year’s Hop ’N Vine Festival and Market, suds lovers will have the opportunity to get hands-on with whole cones.

The festival’s “Hop ’N Vine University” educational component features lecturers ready to school attendees in the art of growing hops. Mark Denari, president of San Jose brewery New World Ales, will deliver a presentation on cultivating the herbaceous perennial and will hand out seeds for those that want to try it at home.

Of course, guests will also have the opportunity to sample plenty of finished products, as well.

“We just brewed and canned a new Northeast-style IPA called Alum Rock that we are really excited about,” says Mark Fazzio, Santa Clara Valley Brewing’s marketing and events manager.

“We had a release party for it in our taproom, and it was well received. We’ll definitely have some of it on hand at the Hop ’N Vine Festival.”

Staying true to its name, the festival will also feature plenty of vendors selling locally produced wine. The “vine” educational component will feature an wine expert from the International Culinary Center, who will present techniques that will help sharpen and refine key skills needed for wine tasting.

This one-day event at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds will feature representatives from 20 wineries and 10 breweries—all of them locally owned and operated.

The Hop ’N Vine Festival is also aimed at giving back to the community, according to Valerie Merklin, development manager for the Santa Clara County fairgrounds. Merklin emphasizes the festival’s focus on supporting the community’s rich history of beer and wine production.

Noted historian Charles L. Sullivan says that during the mid-1800s, Santa Clara County was one of the top wine-producing regions in the state. He also calls Santa Clara Valley the birthplace of Northern California’s wine industry.

In that vein, the festival will feature a photo gallery of historic photos of vineyards and early agricultural projects.

In addition to the beer, wine and educational elements, there will also be food, a DJ spinning tunes and games—like giant Jenga and Connect Four. Those choosing not to drink can get into the festival as a designated driver for just $15.

Hop ’N Vine
Mar 10, 2pm, $55+.
Santa Clara County fairgrounds, San Jose.