Come January, California will be cannabis country: recreational dispensaries are scheduled to open in 2018. But, even with Mary Jane coming to the party, California, at its heart, is wine country. According to Wineinstitute.org, the Golden State is not only the biggest wine-producing region in America, but it makes 90 percent of our nation’s wine. This is no small feat, considering there’s a winery in every state.
When you look at California on a global level, they still produce a ton of wine. In fact, they’re the fourth leading producer
Odds are people can guess at least a few of the counties ahead of the likes of Sonoma and Napa: Italy, France, and Spain.
This doesn’t mean that California is all vineyards and nothing else; there’s traffic too. Interestingly, though the vineyards account for hundreds of thousands of acres, they don’t take up a ton of room: they don’t even cover one percent of the entire state’s geography.
Still, wine goes with California like the ocean tide and certain grapes are more popular than others. Chardonnay is the most popular, but Cabernet, Sauvignon, White Zinfandel, and Pinot Grigio also get their day in the sun. And, of course, California has many of us at Merlot.
But will this all change with the changing trends? Come this time next year, will grapes be wilting on their vines as cannabis plants flourish in the fields? Will pot prove an enemy to the likes of port, urging everyone to put down their glasses and go smoke grass? Or will marijuana be wine country’s BFF?
Naturally, time will tell, but the chances are likely that the wine industry will mesh well with cannabis. And there are several reasons why.
Reason Number One
First of all, wine and weed actually go together. Not all the time, of course. People who are new to either shouldn’t go for the one-two combo punch. Alcohol accentuates the effects of THC and might leave those with little tolerance flying a bit higher than intended.
But, for those who know what they’re doing, wine and weed complement each other nicely (and also “compliment” each other – “You have a nice body” and “Thanks, you’re smoking.”).
According to National Public Radio, pairing wine and weed is similar to pairing wine with food: it’s color coordinated. Sativas (the energizing, socializing type of cannabis) typically go well with whites and indicas (the mellow, relaxing type of cannabis) typically go well with reds.
This synergy sets them up to be friends rather than competitors.
Reason Number Two
Another reason cannabis won’t threaten the wine industry is because the industry isn’t new – it’s an industry that’s been around forever. The first known winery dates back to 4100 BC Armenia, wine was a staple of Ancient Rome, and it’s discussed in the Bible. Who knows, the dinosaurs might have even consumed it if they had a corkscrew.
Cannabis, for its part, has also been around forever. According to the DEA Museum, the earliest mention of cannabis dates back to Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2727 BC. It was also part of Ancient Rome, the Middle East, and the Islamic Empire of North Africa before spreading into the western hemisphere in the 1500s.
The point is it’s not just the roots in the vineyards or grow houses that run deep – wine and pot as part of civilization do too
It’s hard to imagine either fading away; they haven’t yet.
Reason Number Three
However, those in the wine industry aren’t afraid that wine will disappear into oblivion, swirling down the drain of a kitchen sink or throwing itself against a wall like a scene from Dynasty. But they are concerned cannabis could hit them where it hurts the most: their profit margin.
Part of this fear has to do with the overlap of the reasons alcohol and cannabis are consumed in the first place. They’re both used to cut loose, to relax, to blow off steam, and to party hardy. But wine is about more than getting drunk. Many people view wine as an art form and take it very seriously.
People do this with other types of alcohol too – from finely crafted beer to oak-aged bourbon – liquor is often luxurious. It’s about more than the buzz and that’s not likely to change.
This isn’t to say alcohol as a whole shouldn’t feel threatened. Beer that is purchased solely for the purpose of getting wasted (the Keystone Lights, et al.), may have reason to shake in its cans – THC is probably a threat to PBR. Per the New York Times, states with recreational pot laws already on the books have indeed seen beer sales drop, but this drop has been most potent among mass-market beers whose drinkers are likely swapping out intoxicants.
Some people choose cannabis over alcohol because it doesn’t involve a true hangover, comes without calories (assuming you don’t consume edibles and you don’t account for the munchies), and doesn’t involve having to plug your nose because it tastes so disgusting (I’m talking about you, bacon-flavored vodka).
Cannabis is also safer: acute alcohol poisoning can unfortunately be fatal
Anyone looking for a quick buzz or a way to kick back on a special night (like a Wednesday) may indeed turn to weed instead of whiskey and pipes instead of pinots. But the alcohol industry won’t lose the true connoisseurs and that affords wine a degree of protection.
For those who take the grape seriously (or any other type of booze), cannabis shouldn’t change that passion. It should only enhance it.