The growing popularity of marijuana has swept through the country, opening up the public mind to enjoying weed in a variety of new ways. Over the last year, a variety of gourmet food establishments have been creating high end food and marijuana experiences much in the same way events have been held in the past for wine tastings. The idea of marijuana’s subtle flavors and tones adding to a meal has begun to be contemplated and, in this way, marijuana has begun to find a more elegant reputation. The use of marijuana as a delicacy has caught the attention of winemakers.
Branching Out from the Emerald Triangle
Winemakers in the southern part of Oregon have started to grow their own marijuana alongside their award winning wines. Just a few miles away from the northern California border, winemakers are branching out into the marijuana industry. This is in the fertile territory that is very close to where California’s ‘Emerald Triangle’ thrives. The Emerald Triangle is home to an oasis of marijuana cultivation. The entire region operates around marijuana farms that grow and provide the bulk of the marijuana used in products across the state. Winemakers have used this same fertile land to grow the grapes for their wine and now seek to expand that to include marijuana.
The Shifting Reputation of Cannabis
Both Oregon and California have strong medical marijuana industries but Oregon also legalized recreational marijuana 2 years ago and opened up the possibilities of how marijuana can be perceived, used and grown. California technically legalized marijuana on the first of this year but it won’t be legally allowed to be sold until next year. It’s more than possible that California winemakers will follow the trend and begin to incorporate marijuana growing as part of their services. The use of marijuana in this way will no doubt work towards transforming its reputation from a low brow drug to a refined and high end recreational activity for those with a developed palate.
According to Leafly, Barbara Steele, who runs a winery called Cowherd Vineyard & Garden with her husband, Bill, said, “Baby boomers are drinking less. Millennials are coming into their time, economically, where in 2016 they were the fastest-growing consumers of wine, both in dollars and volume. They’re looking for an experience of ‘wine and weed.’” In this way, the move towards growing marijuana may be a necessity for winemakers who are trying to keep up with the times. Marijuana has been found to be safer and healthier than alcohol and with a rise in health consciousness amongst consumers, this may be a fair estimate.
8 states have now legalized recreational marijuana including Washington, Colorado, California, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and, of course, Oregon. This is approximately 20 percent of the country. Despite this, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level which means that winemakers have to make sure to keep their wine business separate from the marijuana growing business; otherwise they could lose their licenses. Until prohibition has finally ended, business owners will have to be very mindful of following all the correct rules. With that in mind, they can continue to grow their grapes and their weed and enjoy the bounty that has become the marijuana industry.