Pot is Already Changing Wine Country’s Landscape
California wine country could soon have a very different look, feel and smell, as a growing number of wine makers trade their cork barrels for heat lamps and jump on the marijuana gravy train.
As the Sacramento Bee reports, the allure of the green rush has not escaped the state's winemakers. Some are selling their properties to large-scale weed growers; others are trying their hand at marijuana cultivation themselves.
California’s legalization of recreational marijuana has led to the beginning of a major transformation of wine country. It’s been just seven months, but already investors are snapping up property where wine was once produced. Vineyard operators are developing expertise in cannabis cultivation. New, specialty marijuana businesses are sprouting up in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. And farmers who have long made a good living by growing and harvesting winegrapes are expressing interest in diversifying with marijuana.
“As a sustainable farmer, you have to be willing to change with the market, and with crops that are profitable,” said Steve
Dutton, president of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau whose family farms 1,200 acres of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes west of Russian River Valley, as well as a few hundred acres of organic apples.
Cal Marijuana Policy touched on his phenomenon in February with a story on the Fetzer Winery in Hopland, California, which just sold its enormous vineyard to pot business Flow Kana.
The Bee has more on the purchase and how it could be a sign of things to come.
Marijuana tourism could one day rival the region’s multibillion-dollar wine tourism industry, and grapes could be replaced with marijuana plants, said state Sen. Mike McGuire, a Democrat from Healdsburg, whose sprawling North Coast district includes a large portion of Sonoma County and the famed weed capital of the U.S. known as the Emerald Triangle.