California, Welcome to the Age of Winery-Style Weed Tourism

Winos won’t be the only ones heading to Sonoma in 2018

By Wesley Grover

California Has Entered the Age of Winery-Style Weed Tourism
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03 January 2018

It’s 2018, and California’s cannabis prohibition nightmare is finally over.

In many ways, this changes nothing: California’s been blazing since long before the 1913 Poison Act outlawed marijuana consumption. But for those who have ever treated themselves to a wine vacation in Sonoma and thought, “Imagine if they did this for weed?”, well, good news: that’s exactly what’s about to happen.

Adopting the region’s long-established tourism industry as its model, creative cannabis enthusiasts are fast at work in wine country on their own versions of the age-old process and sampling tour.

“We can and will look at the wine tourism industry model for inspiration on how to build 420-tourism,” Nicky Blaufarb told us, VP of Business Development at CannaCraft, a manufacturer of marijuana products in Santa Rosa, CA. “They will be very similar in that they are both about creating an experience: ambience, knowledgeable hospitality staff and tour guides, etc. The wine world has perfected this, and we will absolutely look to them for guidance.”

So, what exactly does that mean? Let’s look at some of the forthcoming iterations.

Wine & Weed Dinners

Wine and food pairings have been a fixture in Sonoma for years, so “wine and weed” dinners only seem logical at this point. “I would love to see us work together [with the wine industry] on creating experiences that encompass both cannabis and wine,” Blaufarb shares. “I do not mean infused wine by this, I mean shared venue space, events, dinners, lunches and seminars.”

As Sam Edwards, president of the Sonoma Cannabis Company, recently explained to NPR, “What we’re beginning is melding cannabis with wine and food in a curated meal that offers the best of all worlds.”

Farm-to-table gourmet food with a 2012 Cab Sauv and a little bubba kush, all overlooking those rolling vineyards? Sign us up.

Pot Tours

For those who don’t want to get stuck inda-couch, pot-fueled adventures into Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley are already being organized. Brian Applegarth, founder of Emerald Country Tours, tells us, “People often travel to Chianti, Italy or Bordeaux, France for the wine and so too will they travel to northern California for the finest cannabis in the world.”

“We offer half-day and full-day guided tours, various cannabis experiences and exclusive, private multi-day adventures deep into the Emerald Triangle,” he shares. “Our offerings start from $100 for a base-level cannabis experience and goes up into the thousands for a three-day unique journey into the Emerald Triangle, where one will visit heritage prohibition grows, meet award-winning cultivators and gain access to the finest cannabis in the world while soaking in the rich heritage and unique bohemian subculture of our region.”

Similarly, Sea of Green Events offers a Wine and Weed Tour in Sonoma Valley. “We'll visit a vineyard location where our group will taste amazing California wines, enjoy a luxurious picnic featuring seasonal local foods, and participate in a cannabis sensory evaluation (the equivalent of a wine tasting for pot),” explains the company’s website.

Cannabis Tastings

While we’re on the topic of “sensory evaluations,” we might as well talk tastings. Another experience that essentially mirrors an existing wine-world favorite, marijuana tastings will provide visitors the opportunity to sample various strains and methods of ingestion in a relaxing setting.

At the HerbaBuena Social Club, members can enjoy teas, tinctures and the like at regular tasting events, as well as “cannabis pop-ups” with the country’s first Demeter Certified Biodynamic Cannabis. (It’s very scientific, but we won’t get into that right now.)

They also do cannabis curation for private events, with “bud-tenders” providing guided expertise for anyone who wants an open weed bar at their next birthday bash. Getting ready to tie the knot? Bridal and groomsman gifts are available.

Bud and Breakfasts — And Beyond

We’re already seeing “bud & breakfasts” in states that previously legalized recreational use, but they’re sure to follow in Sonoma, the veritable Valhalla of boutique B&Bs. “Bud and breakfasts will start to bubble up in the next year,” says Applegarth. “And we’ll see refinement and rapid growth over the next 10 years.”

As for other experiences on the horizon? We’re told that cannabis yoga classes — in which the attendees lights up together beforehand — are in the works up and down the Pacific coast.

Oh, and cannabis massages. Smoke up, rub down. Sold.

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