Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Baker County has long been known for its ranches, farms and orchards that produce the staples of an all-American meal.




Peaches and huckleberries for a dessert cobbler.

But the county is also starting to round out the local menu with a selection of beverages with which adults can complement their dinners.

We have a pair of breweries in Barley Brown's and Bull Ridge.

Travis Cook and Jacki and Lance Adams are growing wine grapes near Keating and Richland.

Most recently, Tom Hutchison submitted an application to Baker City for an operation that would malt barley and potentially other grains, a key ingredient in brewing beer.

Hutchison, who hopes to start malting grain this fall, plans to sell his product to both of Baker City's breweries and to others around the region.

Baker County boasts all the raw materials needednot only to make fine beer and wine, but also distilled spirits.

We have cold, pure water.

Our climate and soils are well-suited for growing grains for malting.

Other potential ingredients available within our borders include peppermint (flavoring for schnapps), juniper trees (the berries give gin its distinctive taste and aroma), and potatoes (the root ingredient in some types of vodka).

Brewing and distilling might not ever rival beef cattle or alfalfa among Baker County's agricultural larder.

But diversification ought to benefit the county's bottom line, and its reputation as a purveyor of fine food and drink.