Building Your Cannabis Brand

Building Your Cannabis Brand 

Matthew Owen

WEED_WINE_OCWEEDREVIEWCan you name me one Humboldt, Trinity or Mendocino County grower that is asked for by name when purchasing cannabis? Neither can I, and that’s the problem.

  If you don’t have a name brand with market awareness then you are simply producing an agricultural commodity, and its game over after November 2016 when the corporations enter the industry.

  Recently I picked up Luke, my SoHum friend, and we drove down to the wine country to experience “branding.” No, not cattle branding, but rather corporate branding, which I see as being essential for the future of Emerald Triangle cannabis growers.

  One thing to keep in mind — one doesn’t go to the wine country to drink wine, but rather to enjoy the “experience” at each winery.

  We started at Ferrari-Carano winery and went downstairs to the underground cellar’s Enoteca tasting room, where they pour their premium Reserve wines. We didn’t go to Ferrari-Carano to drink wine, but rather to drink Ferrari-Carano wines in a Ferrari-Carano wine glass, where we can purchase Ferrari-Carano caps, T-shirts and polos.

  Don’t get me wrong, the Ferrari-Carano generic labels (Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) they pour upstairs are all good wines. However, their Reserve labels (Tresor, Back Forty and West Face) are the difference between good and great.

  We checked into a hotel and went off to Michel-Schlumberger for a wine maker’s dinner. Many of the wineries in Sonoma and Napa Valley have their own in-house chef and offer wine and food pairings along with dinner for their Wine Club members. Until you’ve experienced a four-course gourmet meal complete with unlimited Michel-Schlumberger wines you haven’t experienced wine country. Did I mention this was free to Wine Club members? We drank Michel-Schlumberger wines in Michel-Schlumberger wine glasses where we could purchase Michel-Schlumberger caps, T-shirts, polos and cook books.

   The next day we started the morning at Truett-Hurst, where they have expansive grounds with tables and chairs along the Dry Creek for Wine Club members. They also have numerous benches outside the tasting room where families sit and share Truett-Hurst wines in Truett-Hurst wine glasses and bring their own picnic baskets of food.

  Next we went to Kokomo Winery where Eric Miller, a winemaker from Kokomo, Indiana, makes some of my favorite reds. We drank Kokomo Wines in Kokomo wine glasses.

Finally, on the way out of town, we closed at Clos du Bois, a subsidiary of Constellation Brands. Again we sampled premium (Briarcrest and Marlstone) reds in a Clos du Bois wine glass surrounded by Clos du Bois merchandise.

   Did I mention that the weekend was the annual Wine Road event, where over 20,000 wine enthusiasts come to Northern Sonoma for the weekend to sample food and wine pairings at each of the 135 participating Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valley wineries?

   Then I went on the Harborside Health Center (the largest cannabis dispensary in California) website and browsed the menu. What I saw was Blue Dream Bleu Phantom, Bubba Kush, Chem Dawg, Chiesel, Dutch Crunch, etc… What I didn’t see were the words “Humboldt,” “Trinity,” “Mendocino,” or which farms produced the cannabis.

   Once again, I don’t go to Ferrari-Carano to buy wine, I go there to purchase Ferrari-Carano 2010 PreVail Back Forty Cabernet Sauvignon. Cannabis is an agricultural commodity while wine is a specialty premium product.

  As legalization comes, which one will the Emerald Triangle produce?

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