Marijuana tourism is on the horizon for California’s famed wine country.
A craft cannabis brand called Flow Kana is building a marijuana processing and manufacturing hub on the site of a former winery in Mendocino County. The company purchased the 80-acre parcel once owned by the founding family of Fetzer Vineyards for $3.6 million in 2017.
Much like a winery that hosts tours and tastings, the Flow Cannabis Institute will build experiences around the operation. Visitors will eventually tour the facilities where small farmers test, dry, cure, trim, process, and package marijuana for distribution; learn about the plant in seminars and pairing dinners; take a yoga class; and stay at an on-site, pot-friendly bed and breakfast.
Flow Kana was founded as a boutique delivery service in 2014 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company only sources from farms that grow outdoors without pesticides.
The Flow Cannabis Institute is the first of its kind in California, and it enables small and independent farmers to scale and compete with Big Marijuana brands. But is also offers an opportunity for the company to educate new consumers in the long-stigmatized industry.
This Wonka Factory for weed comes with one major caveat: Flow Kana has no plans to grow or sell cannabis on the property, though a future “tasting room” will give away marijuana for free to adults over the age of 21. California law allows up to an ounce of marijuana to be gifted.
On January 1, recreational marijuana became fully legal in the Golden State, where medical use has been legal since 1996.
We spoke with Amanda Reiman, head of community relations at Flow Kana, about what we can expect from the Flow Cannabis Institute.
Reiman, a former professor at UC Berkeley who taught classes on substance abuse and drug policy, recalls taking college students on field trips to marijuana dispensaries.
Some went into the experience with preconceived notions about what a pot shop is like. They imagined shopping for marijuana like going to a house party where people passed around joints — instead of the highly-regulated and increasingly boutique retail experience that it is today.
“Seeing with your own eyes is sometimes the only antidote to what you see in the media,” Reiman said.