Much of the marijuana used for the wine comes from California’s weed capital Humboldt County, according to Crane Carter, president of the Napa Valley Marijuana Growers, who believes that Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stag’s Leap district pairs particularly well with pot.
According to Carter, pot wine delivers a quicker high than pot brownies, and the combination of alcohol and marijuana produces an interesting little buzz. He believes a cannabis-cuvee has a bright future in Napa, but for the moment, producers are making the wine in small quantities to be shared in convivial moments with like-minded people, according to wine writer Mike Steinberger who tasted it reportedly at a Burgundy dinner in New York and found it having pungent, herbal aroma that reminded him of his college dorm or a Grateful Dead concert where Pot used to be in the air.
To make cannabis wine, a pound of marijuana is added to a cask of fermenting juice yielding around 1.5 grams of pot per bottle. As in the case of wine- better the weed, better the wine. Some producers even opt for maximum extraction, keeping the wine in barrel for nine months before bottling it.
Although the origin of pot wine is not clear, most people involved in it believe it started in the ‘80s when the Reagan administration was actively pursuing war on drugs. Weed wine was reportedly being made then typically with rosé, and sold for over US$100 due to the legal risk involved. While the medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996, possession of an ounce (28.5g) or less of is punishable by a maximum US$100 fine with no criminal record.
Drugs have been on the periphery of the California wine scene going back a long time. In the late 1960s, Ridge Vineyards, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley and one of California’s most talked about wineries, was like a magnet for counterculture types.
According to Steinberger marijuana- laced wines are no longer a novelty but a full-blown trend, as more and more vintners throughout California's Central Coast and fertile northern valleys are combining cannabis with Cabernet or Shiraz-the most popular varietals. However, the batches are still small and they still talk in hushed tones.
Cultivation of any amount of marijuana is however a felony, though people who grow for personal use are eligible to grow as an exception so long as there is no evidence of intent to sell. There are no fixed limits to cultivation personal use.
Curious as it may sound, the young college co-ed in India may not be able to taste the Californian cuvee as possessing, eating, smoking or drinking of pot is illegal in India.