Sonoma County: News and Notes

This November we will be voting on a proposition to legalize Marijuana. I think we all expect that proposition to pass by a wide margin. The question is what does it mean to Sonoma County and the Wine Industry.

I posted a couple of years ago about the Graton Casino. Here we had a facility which by now has had about $1B spent on it. And because people fought it they never thought about what would happen when it was built. Now we have this facility in the county that brings significant numbers of tourists in. This facility has no synergy with the rest of the economy of the county. Maybe we can do better with the Cannabis folks?

How could that work? Well, one would have to assume that one could sell Marijuana as part of the Wine experience. You can imagine that there would be pairings that could be done as part of a higher end experience. This could include food as well. We need to see what kind of connection can be made. Now if I was one of the existing well know large Tasting Rooms I might not do that. But I know that many smaller Wineries struggle to turn a good profit. This pairing could represent a target market for such a Winery.

Do I know this will work? No, I don't. But I hope to stimulate some thinking by both the Tasting Rooms and the Tour Companies. We can't have indoor private clubs that allow smoking. But I am not sure that extends to Marijuana because the law was written predating any legalization of Marijuana. I would think it would be possible to have outdoor facilities as well. I am sure we will find ways to work it out. But the point of this is that it has to have high class. Anything that is going to pair with the Wine Business has to be upscale to the point that Wine drinkers will want to go there. So, we are not thinking West County here. Think Healdsburg or Sonoma. Right now what I see are places that are in terrible neighborhoods that will not attract the Wine tourism dollars.

So for everyone who is investing in warehouse space to make grow houses, we need to think about how we can use Marijuana to enhance our Wine Tourism. I don't want to see heads buried in the sand when it happens. If there is a Wine Entrepreneur, perhaps they can figure out another way or two to make this work. But rest assured we will have a change to deal with, so we might as well make it work for us.

Have a great week!

Jim Sackman
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