July 1, 2019

Cannabis, A Long History of Cultivation in Sonoma County

It’s funny really. Hanging in my dining room is the framed letter that was sent to my great-grandfather, requiring that he “cease and desist” the growing of grapes intended for wine, and the making of wine. Prohibition had arrived. It’s dated May 19, 1929 and signed by a Mr. Boehner (a coincidence that has been duly noted). His ranch, the one where I live and grow wine grapes today… was largely supported by growing grapes and making wine. He stopped growing grapes and making wine. Instead he put a still back in the woods, started making moonshine and hooked up with some nice fellows from Chicago. That’s another story. Actually, a really good one.

But this post is about how cannabis, like wine during prohibition, was once illegal and is now legal. And how cannabis, like wine, if used wisely and in moderation can not only be pleasure enhancing, whether it be with food, a hike in the woods or a good nap, but also a contributor to a regime of health and wellness.

Cannabis has a long history in Sonoma County, where, like grapes, the climate and soils are hospitable for the growth of the finest quality product. Sonoma is the gateway to the Emerald Triangle, a world-class growing region for craft cannabis. Its documented cultivation dates as far back as 1850 with the Russians at Fort Ross who farmed nearly 350 acres of hemp back in the mid-1850’s. Luther Burbank and the agricultural roots of Sonoma County are intertwined with the culture of cannabis (I have a rose bush in my back yard that he gave my great-grandmother, by the way…).

At Farmhouse, CBD, a non-hallucinogenic extract of the hemp plant, has found its way into our spa. It’s known for its super anti-inflammatory qualities and is beneficial for body and mind. The oil that we are using contains skin nourishing oils of lavender, avocado and grape seed. If they like, guests can also purchase a CBD bath bomb to take back to their room to further the experience.

When we first offered the CBD massage, we weren’t sure how guests would react. Like wine, after prohibition, cannabis is, by some, viewed with skepticism, to say the least. But, it’s not only been popular, the guests who are requesting the CBD massage are all over the place demographic-wise!  So, we’ve expanded our offerings.

We are just launching our new Artisan Partner Program. My brother’s been working with about a dozen craft producers, all of whom are non-wine. They run the gamut from cider and beer to housewares.  It mirrors our Winery Partner Program. And one of the experiences that he’s included is Solful down the road in Sebastopol.  Solful is a high-end luxury cannabis dispensary. They have everything from varietal cannabis to edibles, topicals, you name it. Take a look at their site, it’s overwhelming. So the experience that we are offering there is basically a curated introduction. Beforehand guests will fill out a questionnaire which will allow us to pair them with the appropriate “consultant” at Solful. The dispensary’s design is chic and modern and feels like an upscale apothecary. Guests will be able to purchase product to enjoy, similar to purchasing wine after a tour at a winery.

We are also working with a local team who is helping us to further introduce cannabis products into the Farmhouse experience on property. Beyond the spa, we will be offering items from a custom designed menu that can be delivered to Farmhouse. The menu will be high-end, with a guide on THC vs. CBD and methods of safe ingestion. It will also only offer products, that like the wine and food we choose, are hand crafted by artisan growers. The menu will also offer parings- what activity goes well with each item….music, hiking, etc.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited to have yet another incredible thing that we can turn guests on to.

I love that over the 18 years that we’ve had Farmhouse, itineraries have gotten harder and harder to put together. It used to be mostly wineries and where to eat. Now the list of options is really a challenge to pare down to a two or three day visit. Is it focused just on wine? Beer? Cider? No alcohol at all? It goes on and on. And don’t get me started on the food options! Sonoma just keeps getting cooler and cooler. And my kids just keep teasing me about how proud I am to be a fifth generation native…

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