Pairing Wine And Weed: Is It A California Dream Or Nightmare?
Proponents of the emerging pot-for-pleasure industry want to grab a share of the nearly $2 billion tourism business in Sonoma County with events like dinners that incorporate marijuana.
NPR / JOHN BURNETT / July 10, 2017
In the epicurean world, Northern California is famous for two intoxicants — wine and weed. With recreational marijuana about to be legal in the Golden State, some cannabis entrepreneurs are looking to the wine industry as a model.
On the elegant terrace of a winery overlooking the vineyard-covered hills of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, a dozen invited guests are sipping pinot noir, nibbling hors d’oeuvres and taking hits off a water pipe.
They have come for a farm-to-table meal of kale salad, roasted vegetables and grilled flatiron steak paired with wine and certain types of marijuana.
“What we’ve found so far is that sativas go well with whites, indicas go well with reds,” says Sam Edwards, president of the Sonoma Cannabis Company.
He’s part of the emerging pot-for-pleasure industry that seeks to grab a share of the nearly $2 billion tourism business in Sonoma Valley with events like this.
“What we’re beginning is melding cannabis with wine and food in a curated meal that offers the best of all worlds,” says Edwards.
Recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states and the District of Colombia.
But the prize is California, where American cannabis has the deepest historical, cultural and agronomic roots. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana 21 years ago; in November, voters gave the green light to cannabis for fun.
Northern California’s legendary Emerald Triangle of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties produces some of the world’s most sought-after pot.
As it happens, just south of the Triangle lie the state’s famed wine-growing counties of Sonoma and Napa.
“I think that the wine industry is going to really want to be part of the cannabis industry, because I feel like there’s probably a secure future in that,” says Domi Heckei, a 32-year-old special education teacher who attended the wine-and-weed dinner.
While cannabis people are excited to co-market with wine, wine people are taking a wait-and-see approach. Few of the wine trade associations contacted for this story wanted to comment on the coming of cannabis. One longtime Sonoma winemaker acknowledged “a certain level of apprehension” among his peers.
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