What Does the Wine Industry Have to Learn from the Cannabis Industry?
Over at Greenstate.com writer Chris Macias, who has a good deal of experience writing about wine, provides the cannabis industry readers seven important lessons they can learn from the California wine industry. And all of them are true:
-Put on your suit and tie and start lobbying
-Establish education and service certifications
-Watch out for the snob factor
-Bring customers into the tasting room and tell your story
-Are you a boutique? Take advantage of your niche
-Establish and promote appellations
-Learn to break bread and collaborate as an industry
These are all lessons the burgeoning cannabis industry can, in fact, learn from the wine industry. Good lessons. Lessons that will help them establish brands faster. Lessons that will help them increase sales. And lessons that will allow them to gain a premium price for their products.
But here’s what I’m wondering: What does the wine industry have to learn from the cannabis industry? Is there anything Oregon wineries can learn from their state’s cannabis growers and manufacturers? What can California’s wineries learn from the state’s ambitious cannabis growers and branding folk?
The reason I’m wondering is due to a little factoid that Macias quoted in his article: “The percentage of cannabis users who also drank alcohol dropped from 72 percent to 68 percent over the past year.”
As the wine industry is teaching the cannabis industry how to compete with it and take its customers, what does the wine industry have to gain from cannabis?
I was recently invited down to Napa Valley to take part in a radio show that would explore the connection between wine and cannabis. I was asked because I’m one of the few people who has been relatively vocal about the fact that not only does the wine industry have nothing to gain from cannabis legalization, but in fact, it will lose sales and profits as a result.
I can’t make it down there for the radio show. And when asked if I could recommend anyone else in the industry who also might have a perspective on the problems cannabis legalization will cause and is causing the wine industry I couldn’t think of anyone. I could think of lots of wine people who would happily explain why collaboration with an industry hoping to take their customers away was a good thing. But I failed to find someone who could tell the other, rational, side of the argument.
By the end of 2020, the percent of cannabis users who also drink alcohol is going to drop to between 60 and 65%, well off 2018’s 72%. This figure will level off eventually. While some will only partake in cannabis, a larger percentage will still both drink and smoke. But they’ll be drinking less.
In the wine industry, we talk a lot about Millennials. It’s a big generation. They are and will be taking over many of the positions held by boomers and older GenXers. They’ll make more money. They’ll buy wine because it’s tasty, it is the perfect accompaniment to food, it connects them to the land in a way ketchup and beer can’t, and because they watched their parents drink and enjoy wine.
But what of GenZ, those younger folks who happened to also live with much less, if any, of the stigma attached to “drug use” and who grew up with legal cannabis, with dispensaries on numerous corners, with consistent tales of how cannabis can cure all ailments and diminish all stress while wine and alcohol kills? What about them? What about their future wine consumption?
This is a question that has been and is being bandied about in the meeting rooms of medium-sized wineries and boardrooms of corporate affairs. And they all come to the same conclusion: The only way cannabis doesn’t take a significant cut of alcohol sales is if cannabis prohibition returns…and we all know that isn’t going to happen.
So I have to ask two questions again: What does wine have to learn from cannabis and what is the reason for the wine industry collaborating with and helping the cannabis industry?