Posted: Aug 21, 2018
For the half-dozen years Rebel Coast Winery of Sonoma has been in business, it has primarily focused on producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, with a goal to “...make wine for everybody. No ‘chateau,’ no last names in cursive, no ‘100 year old tradition,’ no $80 price tag.” But focusing on those two grape varieties hardly brings to mind the winery’s other claim: “to simply make wines to excite the rebellious spirit in us all.”
One can now arguably say the winery has met its “rebellious spirit” goal with the release of Rebel Coast Cannabis Infused Sauvignon Blanc. With this wine, the winery adds a fourth to its list of “nos”: no alcohol (technically, less than 0.5% alcohol by volume). In place of alcohol, a bottle of this Sauvignon Blanc comes with 20 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by volume, the principal psychoactive chemical in cannabis. That’s approximately 5 milligrams per glass. It’s not an exact science, but 5 ml of THC is supposed to produce a quick buzz.
Thanks largely to alcohol, a typical table wine delivers about 150 calories per glass. Since there is no alcohol in this Sauvignon Blanc, the wine promises a mere 35 calories per glass.
Finally, Rebel Coast Cannabis Infused Sauvignon Blanc is priced $20 a bottle, under the winery’s claim of “no $80 price tag.”
The grapes sourced to produce the wine are grown in Sonoma County vineyards, but after the alcohol is removed the wine is sent to Colorado where the cannabis research company, Ebbu gives the wine a cannabinoid infusion.
No one I know has said anything about the wine’s taste, and having not tasted it myself, I can’t comment on its quality as a wine, but I do wonder why the alcohol was removed.
Because it includes THC, the wine cannot be sold through normal distribution and retail channels licensed to handle alcohol; but because the alcohol has been removed, the wine can be sold through licensed California THC dispensaries, which right now includes one each in San Diego, Los Angeles and Long Beach. But there may be a more important reason for removing the alcohol.
A few days ago an article appeared in Illinois’ Journal Star headlined: “Why young people are drinking less alcohol.” The article was inspired by a seemingly perpetual survey referred to as Monitoring the Future (MtF). According to its website, MtF is an “ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults.” Each year, the survey includes approximately 50,000 American adolescents and young adults. Journal Star reports that the latest survey shows “alcohol use has dropped steeply since the 1990s.”
The research indicates that Americans in their 20s are drinking less alcohol. Reasons young adults give for the downward trend includes restoring control and balance and making social interactions meaningful. A 20-year veteran bartender told the newspaper he estimates about 30% of young people who hang out at the bar don’t drink alcohol. Coupling the downward alcohol trend in young adults with a Baby Boomer generation population in decline may be why, as I have reported recently, the last few years of retail wine sales have been flat.
Yet, while health, control and social grace are what young adults point to for their disinterest in alcohol, the Journal Star article also pointed out the latest MtF study found that along with alcohol, most illicit drug use has declined, but with one major exception: marijuana.
Put it all together and you can see why a leading alcohol company, Constellation Brands, based in Victor, New York, has just committed almost $5 billion to increase ownership in a leading cannabis company, Canopy Growth, based in Ontario, Canada. The cash infusion increases CB's interest in CG from nearly 10% to close to 38%.
By Thomas Pellechia
August 20, 2018
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