Definitely a trend…but a controversy for some. For those of you who might not be aware, marijuana was recently legalized for sale for recreational use in the state of Nevada. While there are still legal issues of who can legally distribute from grower to retail locations, recreational sales have begun as of July 1. In California, marijuana is currently legal to sell for medicinal purposes, and is on its way to legalization for recreational purposes.
So, what does this have to do with wine, do you ask? California is a large wine producing state, while both California and Nevada have a large wine consumer market. Regardless of whether you are an opponent or proponent of marijuana use, we cannot deny the fact that it has entered as a competitor in the general consumer-industry, even competing with the wine industry in some regards. Interestingly enough, the two industries do have some aspects in common. Most obviously, both are agricultural products whose growers pride themselves on a product focused on quality, with many aroma/flavor variations. Unfortunately, marijuana crops also take valuable water resources away from wine grapes, bring in invasive pests, and also come with the unique, pungent aromas that overtake
However, there has to be some type of happy medium for these two industries, especially in places like California where they are both grown. Here to embrace this discussion is the Wine & Weed Symposium being held in Santa Rosa (California), on August 3 (http://wine-weed.com/). This will not be a wine versus weed event, but an event that will examine how the legalization of marijuana will affect the wine industry as a whole. Experts from both fields are invited to discuss various topics of interest, such as new products, regulations, exploring the potential to co-exist.
Believe it or not, there are now well over 2,000 recorded strains of cannabis, according to Leafly.com (https://www.leafly.com), and its search filters can organize the types by flavor: berry, citrus, tropical, nutty, spicy/herbal, earthy, etc… sound familiar? The scented oils (terpenes) in the cannabis plant result in strains with a variety of aroma and flavor characteristics.
Being unfamiliar to the connection of wine and weed, I took it upon myself to do a little research around the topic. Turns out, there are a number of companies that have created some interesting marriages of wine
Given that the marijuana industry is closely tied to the food and beverage industry already, it is no wonder that exploration of wine and cannabis has also begun. Even the publishers of The Tasting Panel and The SOMM Journal have created The Clever Root publication, which caters to chef and modern cuisine trends, including the cannabis industry.
Pot-pairing events, as they are also called, are an exclusive experience, where guests can experience fine dining cuisine paired with marijuana, as well as wine or other beverages. Cultivating Spirits offers a 3-course paired dinner, while companies like Mason Jar Event Group and Sonoma Cannabis Company hosts various types of cannabis-themed events.
Wine is also increasingly being recommended as a pairing for marijuana as well. Leafly.com even created an infographic depicting a wine and cannabis flavor pairing guide - http://tinyurl.com/ybb7n9x2.
There have been a growing number of wineries who have traded their grapevines in for cannabis crops instead. However, it looks as though there are some wineries that have chosen to marry the two. Typically, the wines are infused with marijuana during the fermenting process, where the THC is extracted.
Rebel Coast Winery is a company that infuses its Cloud Colony single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc with marijuana. CannaWine, on the other hand, makes wine infused with CBD, or cannabidiol, which is a different strain than the more typically known THC marijuana strain. While the wines produced in California can only be sold to those possessing medical marijuana cards, wineries continue to experiment with infused
There are many opinions regarding the legalization of marijuana, whether it is for medical or recreational use, and quite the controversy I might add. Regardless of the pros and/or cons of the industry, for now, it is here
While I refrain from sharing my personal opinion of the matter, I am interested in seeing how the wine industry will be impacted by the cannabis industry, and whether or not there can be a harmonious relationship between the two industries as the world changes.
Until next month, Cheers~!