Marijuana Industry Presses Ahead in California’s Wine Country

Article by Thomas Fuller, New York Times

Josh Malgieri, vice president of the Sonoma Cannabis Company, under artificial lighting used to trick cannabis plants into flowering

In the heart of Northern California’s wine country, a civil engineer turned marijuana entrepreneur is adding a new dimension to the art of matching fine wines with gourmet food: cannabis and wine pairing dinners.

Sam Edwards, co-founder of the Sonoma Cannabis Company, charges diners $100 to $150 for a meal that experiments with everything from marijuana-leaf pesto sauce to sniffs of cannabis flowers paired with sips of a crisp Russian River chardonnay.

“It accentuates the intensity of your palate,” Mr. Edwards, 30, said of the dinners, one of which was held recently at a winery with sweeping views of the Sonoma vineyards. “We are seeing what works and what flavors are coming out.”

Sonoma County, known to the world for its wines, is these days a seedbed of cannabis experimentation. The approval of recreational cannabis use by California voters in November has spurred local officials here to embrace the pot industry and the tax income it may bring.

“We’re making this happen,” said Julie Combs, a member of the Santa Rosa City Council, who is helping lead an effort to issue permits to cannabis companies. “This is an industry that can really help our region.”

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