Wine, weed, or both?

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Wine…weed…or both?

Why choose when you don’t have to. Right?

At least that’s what Van Solkov probably thought as he sat at a coffee shop in Sonoma Square, California. He had been watching wine tour bus after wine tour bus pass by.

That’s when the idea came to him. Why not mix wine and weed in a tour?

Solkov is now the founder of Happy Travelers Tours, a tour company that does just that, takes you on a wine and weed combination tour.

As they say on their website, Happy Travelers’ weed and wine tour is for the ‘Canna-Curious.’ For people who want to learn more about California’s weed production but also to educate people on the medicinal properties of weed.

Their ‘Sip and Sniff’ experience has customers tasting wine and smelling cannabis flowers to compare the similarities in taste.

As Solkov told Forbes: ‘We focus on educating our guests on the convergence of wine and weed, not on the idea of being on a party bus. I want to help destigmatize both cannabis consumption and the image of the cannabis consumer.

California is an economic powerhouse. If you considered California a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP in the world.

The US state is the land of wine.

According to the Wine Institute, the state makes 81% of all of the US’ wine. It is also the fourth largest wine producer in the world. The industry employs 325,000 Californians and generates US$57.6 billion in annual economic activity for the state. 

California: Land of the weed

California was the first US state to legalise medical marijuana and since January of this year it has started selling recreational marijuana.

I mean, compared to the wine market, the weed market is still quite small. But recreational marijuana could give the industry a big push in years to come, as you can see below.

Some wine makers in the area are already getting nervous on the increasing competition they face with weed.

You see, marijuana is also considered a substitute for alcohol.

But others are starting to embrace it.

As The Economist reported:

But not all wine makers are bummed out. Some Californian sommeliers are giving classes on pairing wine and weed. A handful of wine makers in Napa Valley, another centre of wine production, have set up the Napa Valley Cannabis Association, with the idea of planting the stuff in the region next year. And—on the principle that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em—Rebel Coast winery in Los Angeles County has produced a marijuana-infused sauvignon blanc. Andrew Jefford, a British wine writer, thinks drinking, not smoking, is the future of weed. “Cannabis drinks,” he writes, “may become the leading medium for recreational consumption.” Perhaps booze and drugs do belong together after all.

Yep, there are wineries already experimenting with non-alcoholic infused wine. And, before you ask about it, no, it is not legal to mix alcohol and weed together in one beverage in California.

California is even planning to have different ‘appellations’, just like wine. That is, they would have different names like Napa or Sonoma depending on where in the region it was produced.

But other drink players are also starting to jump in.

We are also seeing beer producers, like Constellation Brands, the makers of Corona, get into the market to boost sales.

Or even non-alcoholic drink makers like Coca Cola are studying producing CBD-infused drinks as sugary drink sales slow (CBD or Cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis).

And, it is not just drinks.

It is also starting to slip into the food market like chocolates or candy.

If you have ever seen the Netflix show ‘Cooking on High’, you know that it is even getting included into meals. In the show, two chefs compete against each other to create dishes containing weed for two judges. The winner gets the ‘golden pot’. Don’t get any funny ideas, it is literally a golden cooking utensil.

Farmers…sommeliers…wine makers…

Much like the current alcohol industry recreational marijuana could create a lot of jobs…and lots of new tax dollars.

According to Payscale:

New Frontier estimates that, if marijuana were legalized today, roughly 782,000 new jobs would be created. Furthermore, they estimate that by 2025, that number would grow to 1.1 million.

The vertical production chain within the industry would grow – jobs would be created for farmers, processors, and retailers. Also, dozens of other related businesses stand to benefit from such a change. Consulting services, marketing companies, and accounting firms would all see an uptick in business, for example.

Yet, differently to alcohol, the marijuana industry could become even bigger, as it has also medical benefits.

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