The Green Scene
How the Weed & Wine Worlds are Merging
These two can, and do, coexist deliciously.
In The Green Scene, there's no such thing as a silly question about cannabis. What's the difference between THC and CBD? How the heck do I make edibles at home? What home design advice can dispensaries teach me? Kick back—we have the answers.
One of the first things that I was told about weed and wine is that the two do not mix. In my college year, the term “twisted” was used when someone got really drunk and high at the same time, and it was the definition of unintentionally killing the vibe of a good theater-kid party. It wasn’t until I spoke to Karli Warner, the co-founder and CMO of The Garden Society, that I was introduced to the possibilities of how these two worlds can coexist deliciously.
The Garden Society is a woman-owned cannabis company based in Sonoma County. One of their specialties is wine cannabis gummies. Karli and Erin (the other co-founder and CEO of Garden Society) explained that both wine and cannabis have terpenes which create a scent and flavor profile, which means that they can be paired, mixed and matched depending on their complimentary scents and flavors. Wine and cannabis can give sensory experiences in a way that isn’t just focused on the end result of getting high or feeling tipsy.
Many of the flavor and scent palettes of wine and cannabis complement each other beautifully, which was the inspiration for The Garden Society’s three wine-flavored gummies. Their blissful Rest flavor is a Pinot Noir and tart cherry gummy that was paired with a calming sativa strain of cannabis that enhances the stone fruit flavors that tie all three elements together. They used a similar method to create the flavors for their two other gummies, a color-coded collection that allows the consumer to choose what kind of experience they’ll be signing up for when they ingest cannabis. In my experience, the Brighter Day gummy (which is a peach and prosecco flavor) has been great for a gentle boost of energy when I want to hang out with some of my friends. Or, if I’m having a more stressful day (or my menstrual cramps are wreaking havoc), I have one of the Calm & Focus gummies (which are more CBD rich) to relax my body and my mind.
Before the COVID pandemic hit, The Garden Society used to host garden parties, facilitating conversations involving cannabis and mental health. Karli and her associates realized that, similar to alcohol, many people used cannabis as a means for escapism instead of facing the issues they were feeling. These garden spaces were meant as safe spaces, both todestimagize the usage of cannabis among women, and also to encourage women to ask questions and talk about why they enjoy wine and/or cannabis.
Karli and Nick Pritzer (the founder of Cloud 11, another California based cannabis company that produced terroir-focused edibles) introduced me to the concept of micro-dosing. Micro-dosing, or the practice of taking smaller and more precise amounts of a drug, has been gaining popularity in the cannabis industry, and practicing this is one way to combat the potential for anxiety that sometimes comes with ingesting cannabis. If you’ve ever smoked too much or taken too big a bite out of a brownie, all of a sudden, your face feels like a melting blancmange in a New York City subway while you’re also floating towards the moon, you know that feeling. Having smaller, precisely calculated doses of cannabinoids (like THC or CBD) in a gummy is one way of making sure that the consumer has just enough cannabis to enjoy the experience but not so much that the experience takes control.
As a professional chef, as well as a wine and cannabis expert, Nick Pritzer is excited about the merging of the cannabis and wine spaces. Cloud 11 focuses on the intersection of confections and cannabis, with inspiration from the wine world. For example, one of Cloud 11’s confections are chocolate and salted peanut butter mini pyramids that are bite sized, individually painted, and can be catered to your ideal CBD/THC dosage. While it’s delicious on its own, it’s also an excellent pairing with an Oloroso or Amontillado wine that has a sweeter side. Wine and chocolate go together like Jesus and Christmas. Wine and cannabis, when paired well, have the complimentary terpenes that enhance each other’s flavors. Cannabis and chocolate…you already know. When I asked Nick about what are the intersections that he sees in the wine and cannabis industries, he gave me an answer that I wasn’t expecting but that I appreciated in the deepest part of my West Indian heart.
“Here’s the thing that I think is important to talk about first: As the cannabis industry gets structured I see a lot of concerning similarities between the wine/liquor world and cannabis in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion. Cannabis prohibition has been used as a tool to target Black and brown communities. The police wielded these laws specifically as a way to incarcerate people of color.It’s problematic that there isn’t more of a focus on equity programs, more diversity and inclusion among ownership and leadership in the industry; and this is certainly something that you see in wine and liquor.”
While Nick and his associates are working towards building their brand, they’re also focused on uplifting Black cannabis professionals, but there’s a lot of work to be done. Though Cloud 11 is a business owned by three white guys, they’re helping to build visibility to the Black companies that are paving the way for representation and innovation in their company and in the cannabis industry. He’s also a founding member for an organization called “Cannabis for Black Lives” (an organization focused on providing resources to marginalized professionals in the cannabis industry), which forces industry stakeholders to have conversations about diversifying the core of this industry in a way that’s tokenizing and can create industry-wide change. They also provide support to a different minority owned business every month.
With Sonoma County thriving off of the hospitality and tourism industries, this location is a great example of the possibilities around cannabis, wine, and community-building. Imagine if people could visit and tour a cannabis farmer in the way that they do a vineyard, and sit with other guests to learn more about the process of growing and tasting. Let’s take it one step further and imagine if geographically close cannabis and grape farmers could coordinate certain varieties so that consumers could, hypothetically, purchase a bright Sauvignon Blanc and a citrusy packet of gummies. There’s also the growing possibility of cannabis and grape farmers and farmhands partnering with each other on their off-seasons. With the general timeline for cannabis being between the months of April to October and the harvest season for grapes happening between August to November, there’s room for long term partnerships between two industries.
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