Oddly, the hot topic of discussion in wine country nowadays seems to be all about cannabis. While legal for recreational and medicinal use for the most part in California, like it or not, cannabis farming has become a $4.4 billion booming business and is still growing. No pun intended.
While somewhat reluctant to broach the subject while wine tasting in Sonoma County a few days ago, the banter was always lively and engaging, no matter who you asked. In a short time, I learned that the majority of cannabis was grown in Humboldt County, processed in Mendocino County and distributed widely in Sonoma County, and that Napa County was not at all amused.
While Driving along Highway 116, I caught several wafts of fresh cannabis on alternating days, which caught me slightly off-guard. A fun fact – Santa Rosa Jr. College offers an agricultural hemp program to teach students about the hemp industry, focusing on plant science, soil and plant nutrition and cultivation as well as marketing hemp products to consumers.
Another fun fact – apparently, there is a specialty market called Solful in Sebastopol where “soccer moms” reportedly line up for cannabis infused products. I’m not sure why this surprised me, but it did. All this may be the makings of a good Netflix series.
Like anything controversial, there are several train of thoughts about whether cannabis should be melded with California’s $42 billion retail wine empire. A random sampling of tasting room hosts, winemakers and cannabis and wine enthusiasts along my travels, all felt very strongly about their reasons for keeping the two industries separate. Speaking on behalf of the wine purists and those not interested in having cannabis farms near their homes, schools or place of business, this collective group was opposed to the pungent aromas permeating the air, even detectable with indoor growing operations. [Read more…]