The Sonoma County Experience

California has surpassed the UK as the fifth largest economy in the world. Tourism is one of the forces driving the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), reports Investopedia. It’s no wonder, since California is home to entertainment, technological and agricultural meccas. Add the largest legal cannabis market into the mix, and the wanderlust is exponential.

The Sonoma County Experience offers locals and visitors the opportunity to experience some of California’s finest, and most renowned offerings in one complete tour.

While some wait to see how legalization will unfold in California, Jared Giammona is making an experience of it, and inviting others along for the ride.

Giammona is the founder of The Sonoma County Experience, a guided tour of California’s illustrious wine, and emerging cannabis, region.

The locality is also quickly becoming known for its booming brewery industry; in 2017, Santa Rosa was named the “Microbrew Capital of the U.S.,” according to SFGate.

The concentration, and quality, of these industries give Sonoma County an unparalleled position in the market, explained Giammona. “Nowhere else can you find these three products produced at the level Sonoma County does,” he added. “It’s not just wine country anymore, you have craft beer country and now with legalization, […] cannabis country.”

The tour gives travelers a behind-the-scenes look at how these products are crafted.

The full day tour takes guests on a luxury bus ride from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to Sonoma County. There are multiple stops along the way; the first of which is Vista Point.

After snapping photos of the famous cityscape, Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay, guests hop back onto the bus, where they’re greeted with breakfast beverages, music, snacks, and an explanation of the destinations ahead.

It’s clear that Giammona, a Santa Rosa native, is knowledgeable and passionate about the county’s commodities — wine, beer, and cannabis — and the parallels between these industries.

“We’re excited to give guests [an exclusive] Experience by showing them the ins, outs, and similarities between the wine, craft beer, and cannabis industries,” Giammona said, “[All] while getting to enjoy the beauty of Sonoma County.”

Group of six good friends toasting with wine glasses in cozy kitchen during a dinner party

The company offers two different, immersive experiences: one which includes wine tasting, and the other — beer. Both of which feature visits to cannabis companies.

Cannabis consumption is not a part of the tour, but guests are welcome to purchase products during the tour and consume them according to statewide, adult-use regulations.

Tour-goers will learn just how similar cannabis and other plant-derived products are during the second stop on the itinerary: a guided tour of CannaCraft.

CannaCraft is one of the county’s top 20 private employers, and the largest legal manufacturing facility of its type in the state, Giammona explained. The company produces brands including AbsoluteXtracts, Satori, and Care By Design (CBD).

The tour of the facility is conducted by CannaCraft’s Event Director, Melanie King, who guides visitors through individual rooms, such as the extraction lab or distillation room, to see and smell the different stages of the production process.

Here, guests learn all about how clean medicine is made, from the extraction process to terpene profiles.

CannaCraft’s supercritical, CO2 extraction machines collectively process roughly 350 pounds of dried flower into oil, King explains. There are 23 CO2 extractors onsite, which complete one or two runs per day. Each holds 15 pounds of raw plant material, which is turned into crude oil, and later refined into distillate oil.

Speaking of terpenes, there are plenty of chances to get familiarized, and smell the individual profiles of these aromatic oils. Some are citrusy, and some are sweet. Others — like myrcene — the most abundant terpene in cannabis, are reminiscent of hops. This very terpene was used by CannaCraft and Lagunita’s to create the cannabis infused IPA, Supercritical Ale (see Emerald Magazine October 2017 issue).
Many similarities can be drawn between the industries — but it is the focus on the craft market that distinguishes this region — and this experience.

“[We have] established brands, and for good reason. But there [are] so many other good, local, craft-style stops [here], and we want people to get a true feel of the area by visiting these places,” said Giammona.

Craft brands offer an unmatched level of personalization, and quality. No other dispensary in the region epitomizes this better than Solful Dispensary (see Emerald Magazine January 2018 issue) — the third, and final cannabis themed destination, during The Sonoma County Experience.

Here, tour-goers are welcomed by the dispensary’s CEO and co-founder, Eli Melrod.

The entrepreneur describes what drew him to the industry, and gives guests detailed descriptions of the products available in the shop (including Papa & Barkley’s Releaf Balm, and Kikoko’s variety of infused teas).

The next two destinations depend on the experience chosen (wineries or breweries), but does include lunch and tastings.

The Craft Beer and Cannabis Experience stops at Barrel Brothers, and 101 North.

Destinations included in the Wine Experience are Larson Family Winery, and Robledo Family Winery, said Giammona. The laid-back pace of the tour, coupled with the company of the fellow tour-goers and tour guide means Northern California natives and newcomers are sure to find this experience just as entertaining as it is informative.

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Emerald contributor since February 2016


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