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By January 10, 2018 0 Comments Read More →

Predictions for Wine & Weed; Good Neighbors or Not?

Branden Hamby

As of January 1, 2018, legislation for legal recreational use of marijuana has been passed in eight states including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, and California. Some of these states are also the nation’s biggest wine producers. This begs the question on whether the introduction of legal marijuana use will disrupt the traditional wine industry in a big way. It may be too young to tell just yet but there are many arguments for and against welcoming this new industry.

All tourism is good right? Well, for an industry where most producers make all of their sales as DTC (direct to consumer), wine may actually take a hit when cannabis tasting rooms and dispensaries come around. There is already so much competition between wineries in wine country that opening a tasting room or creating a new label is a risky venture. This will not become easier when cannabis tours and dispensaries start popping up in the famous California’s wine regions that are also famous cannabis growing regions such as Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. With the ongoing regulatory pressures as well as keeping up with new industry trends and large wine companies, smaller wineries are struggling to make a name for themselves.

There is another positive side to this though. Some argue that weed will bring new consumers to the wine industry. People coming to these regions to taste or buy the different cannabis strains will be in the heart of wine country. This draw could open the possibility of new wine customers that would have never been obtainable through traditional wine sales or marketing. Some wineries are even incorporating cannabis into their events, creating a wine, weed and food pairing to give their guests the best of both worlds. It’s an interesting concept if you think about the legal ramifications and regulatory hurdles these places will face but again; with this being uncharted territory, who knows what state and federal law will dictate. Experts at this session will have some guidelines on those regulatory hurdles.

Target audience is also a huge contributor. Millennials (ages 18-29) are the largest group of cannabis users and also the most adventurous when it comes to trying new things. Millennials are known for disrupting traditional wine trends, trying new varietals, and different wines from all over the world. Introducing them to wine regions through the medium of cannabis tourism can create new customers for wineries that were previously inaccessible through traditional marketing or word of mouth.

Whether you think the cannabis industry will collaborate or become a foe to the wine industry, is something only time will tell. Regardless, cannabis is coming as legalization of recreational use is going to be on the ballot for many states in 2018. Join wine and cannabis industry experts at this year’s U.S. Wine & Beverage Conference where they will address opportunities, threats, and concerns that legalization in eastern states presents as well as better understand and prepare for the future impact of the cannabis industry moving in.

“This session will bring the essence of last summer’s Wine & Weed Symposium in California to the East, highlighting and continuing conversations with industry experts about opportunities and challenges the wine industry will encounter as recreational cannabis use is legalized. It’s already legal in Washington, D.C., and in 2018, Massachusetts and Maine will follow, so this is something wineries in eastern regions should be looking at,” said Tina Caputo, who will be moderating the session.

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