James Shepherd is a physician and infectious disease specialist at Yale University School of Medicine, and has recently returned with his family from 8 years in Africa assisting programs in HIV and TB control. He has always been interested in conservation and working lands. The next step in life for he and his family is to help preserve green space and promote agriculture in Connecticut by starting Smokedown Farm, a nine acre hop-yard on Sharon Mountain. This is the third year of production after a lengthy construction project installing the high trellis. There is still much to learn, but Connecticut brewers are already using hops grown on Sharon Mountain.
Ally Hughes joined the team at Smokedown in March of 2018 as Farm Manager. Previously she was Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Technician at a winery in central Nebraska. As a born and bred Nebraskan, agriculture has been deeply rooted in her Midwest upbringing. Ally is a 4th generation farmer that has taken an interest specifically in the farming sector of the craft beverage industry. With her acquired skills she is looking forward to lending a hand in the production of quality hops to the craft brewing industry of New England.