The age of cannabis rosé. The weed wines taste like bong water?

14-01-2020    17:14   |    San Fransisco Cronicle

In California, cannabis entrepreneurs are trying to refute one of the fundamental laws of chemistry: that oil and water don’t mix.

Coming on the heels of cannabis-infused kombucha, cannabis-infused seltzer — really, cannabis-infused everything — the latest beverage trend threatens to take the category to a new extreme: Welcome to the age of cannabis rosé.

In the last few months, three California companies have released nonalcoholic, cannabis-infused rosés: the women-centric brands House of Saka and Viv & Oak, and the stoner-friendly Rebel Coast. Each company wants its infused rosé to be your after-work wind-down drink, your pairing with a fillet of salmon, your aperitif on the patio.

They promise a more manageable high than an edible and more subtlety than lighting up. Because all legal cannabis products are required to be nonalcoholic, these booze-removed rosés capitalize on the growing “sober curious movement.” Their high hope is that they might bring new drinkers — and occasions — into the cannabis fold.

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</aside>“We see Saka at dinner parties, weddings,” says House of Saka CEO Tracey Mason. “Places where before you might have had to go outside and around the corner to smoke a joint.”

This is a new, girly, gentrified look for cannabis products. “Rosé is a trend specific to women with purchasing power,” says Saka’s president, Cynthia Salarizadeh. The cannabis rosés are explicitly targeting an affluent, 21- to 65-year-old female demographic, which is already buying actual rosé wine in droves: According to Impact Databank, U.S. rosé wine sales reached 18.7 million cases in 2018, up 1.2 million from three years earlier.

Whereas Saka’s packaging might be described as bachelorette party-psychedelic, and Viv & Oak has a kind of sexy-housewife vibe (marketing shots show the bottle surrounded by chocolate-covered strawberries), Rebel Coast is more brosé: Its label promises “it’ll turn out better than that time you went to the Fyre Festival.”

Meanwhile, legal cannabis looked on track for $3.1 billion in sales in California in 2019, three years into legalization. Within this growing industry, beverages are potentially an untapped goldmine. Alcohol behemoths AB InBev and Constellation have made major investments in the cannabis space, to the tune of $50 million and $5 billion, respectively. Saka, Viv & Oak and Rebel Coast are still small, each producing under 5,000 cases this year, but infused beverages could represent $375 million in sales by 2022, according to the firm BDS Analytics.

“The opportunity in cannabis is a big blue ocean,” says Macai Polansky, co-founder of Spacestation, a new Sacramento company that bottles cannabis-infused beverages for other businesses, as well as produces its own brand of cannabis-infused seltzers called Nectr. “Packaged beverage makes up 30 to 60% of sales in grocery stores, but right now it’s only about 1% of a dispensary’s sales.”

But cannabis and wine (or seltzer, or kombucha) might not be such easy bedfellows. For one thing, dispensaries might not want to deal with the hassle of bottled beverages. “A pallet of vape cartridges could be worth $500,000, whereas a pallet of beverages might be worth $20,000 to $30,000,” Polansky says. Refrigerated storage and transportation are essential for beverages, but most retail and distribution channels aren’t yet set up for it.

Source: San Fransisco Cronicle
Photo Credit: House of Saka and
Justin Aikin on Unsplash


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