On June 18th, 2004, the Hop Growers of Slovenia, the Hop Elders and Hop Princesses of Slovenia founded the Society of Hop Elders and Princesses of Slovenia, and thus made a step further in preserving the tradition of growing hops in Slovenia. The desire for social organization has been in place for some time, as the situation in the hop sector has changed considerably. The society is active and developing. In January 2018, due to the scope of its activity, the highest body at the assembly of members of the Society decided to rename it to the Hop Growers Association of Slovenia.
The Association, which has 183 members, is headed by the President (the hop elder), assisted by a board of directors composed of: the president, the vice president (the current hop elder) and five other active members of the society in the hop sector.
The first president was the hop elder and the knight of hops, Milan Lesjak senior from Ojstriška vas, who led the society for two mandates. Then, the hop elder Anton Rožič from Zakla took over the management. Since 2016, this function is performed by the hop elder and the knight of hops Ivan Oset from Drešinja vas.
The following committees operate within the Association:
- the Committee on Hop-Growing, which keeps track of developments in this field, gives initiatives to improve the situation, and draws attention to the hop-growing issues.
- the Promotion Committee, actively involved in carrying out presentations at world fairs for hop-growing and brewery and
- the Award Committee that proposes the annual prize-giving to the deserving hop growers and skilled workers in the field of hops.
The Association is financed by membership fees, public funds resulting from calls for tender and donations. The members of the Association carry out work voluntarily and free of charge.
We represent the interests of all Slovenian hop growers, hop elders and princesses and our supporters, organize expert consultations and meetings of members, participate in and represent our hop industry at world fairs (Munich, Nuremberg, Milan), organize and participate in various events important for the promotion of Slovenian hop industry and in that framework show old customs and thus preserve our cultural heritage. We are also a member of the International Hop Growers’ Convention IHGC – IHB – CICH.
We are aware that only those who know, nourish and respect their history and tradition and by enriching it with new knowledge can be successful. This is also true for us hop growers, as we have over a hundred-year-old history of hop breeding in our towns and cities. Maintaining the tradition and hop growing is our main task, which is a part us for more than 100 years.
With its members, the Association has strived to promote production standards, improve product quality and develop product quality with a protected geographical indication of ŠTAJERSKI HMELJ (STYRIA HOPS), and has finally succeeded.
On June 23rd, 2014, the certification body Bureau Veritas d.o.o. Ljubljana, issued a certificate confirming that the Association meets the requirements of the Specification for ŠTAJERSKI HMELJ with protected geographical indication (PGI), registered at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment of RS under registration number 33203-31/2012/26. The certificate is issued in accordance with the standard SIST EN 45011 and in accordance with the procedure SPA07 – Certifying of agricultural products and food. The certificate is annexed to the list of all hop growers of Slovenia that have joined the PGI of ŠTAJERSKI HMELJ. The Association carries out internal and external control of the PGI. On this basis, all hop growers received a certificate on the quality of hops in the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
In addition to the basic task of representing the interests of all Slovenian hop growers, hop elders and princesses and our supporters, we organize expert consultations. Every year, we participate in a seminar on hop production organized by the Slovenian Institute of Hop Research and Brewing in February at the Thermana Congress Center in Laško, where we are actively participating in the discussions, with the present hop elder and hop princess in their official garments.
We organize and participate in various events that are important for the promotion of Slovenian hop industry. Thus, every year on the second Sunday in August, an event Hop Growers Day (Slovene: Dan hmeljarjev) is organized in cooperation with the Tourist Society of Braslovče, where a new pair of hop elder and hop princess is presented at the formal sitting, then with the presentation of old customs in hop industry in a procession at the venue, we announce the new hop pair, who has the task of promoting hop industry in our area and abroad. This event helps us to preserve the cultural heritage, as in the procession we show how the hop growers managed and worked even in the time when there was no modern mechanization.