Continued Reefer Madness on Wine Blog: Another reefer in the wine business? Ah, yeah… And, it’s real this time

My blog  on April 12th was called Reefer? Did someone say, “Reefer?”

It wasn’t actually about marijuana. It was about Deborah M. Gray‘s book entitled, How to Import Wine ~ An Insider’s Guide. In that instance, a “reefer” is a word referring to “refrigerated containers that control temperature for the contents of the container, via a generator for the duration of the voyage.” – from Deborah Gray of Blue Stone Wine Solutions.

Then, April 14 on the Daily Beast: Marijuana-Laced Wine Grows More Fashionable in California Wine Country, by Michael Steinberger

Okay, I can see where this would seriously alter the flavors of any wine. In a positive way? I just don’t know. I haven’t tasted any.

Am I curious? Of course. How an herb will impact the flavors of wine grapes is really interesting to me.

Talk about the potential for “off” flavors…. I’m just thinking, but Michael’s story doesn’t suggest anything of the kind.

Reading the story, I wasn’t living in California in the 1980s, so didn’t know – news never got to Maine – that this was going on in California. I can see where it would, though, knowing what I now know about California from living here since 1992. In New England, the hidden culinary adventure was marijuana laced brownies… I heard.

Michael Stein writes:

“Last year, at a Burgundy dinner in New York, I was given a wine that smelled like no Burgundy I’d ever encountered. Instead, it had a pungent herbal aroma that called to mind a college dormitory on a Saturday night—that, or a Grateful Dead concert. The devilish grin on the face of the friend who offered me the mystery liquid confirmed it: what I had in my hand was a glass of pot wine—yes, as in marijuana-laced.

“In the spirit of inquiry, I took a sip, and while it neither got me stoned nor made me want to ditch the glass of 1985 Roumier Bonnes-Mares that I was holding in my other hand, it was certainly a novel experience. But it turns out that pot wine isn’t such a novelty in California wine country; there apparently are quite a few winemakers surreptitiously producing cannabis cuvées.”

Well, why not? Prohibition happened with wine, beer, and spirits, and the government didn’t really learn anything about that one…

  • Regardless of the law created, if people wanted to imbibe, they did.
  • There are tax dollars to be had, and you government guys are really slow on the uptake.
  • People have been smoking pot since it was first discovered… probably right after the fire burned the first field of it.

Then there’s this bit of info from DrugScience.org that I just dug up. It’s a bit dated, but you’ll get the point about missed tax dollars.

Table 7. Top Cash Crops in the United States (Average Value 2003 – 2005)

Value ($1000s)

So, back to the wine with its cannabis ingredient…

I really enjoyed Michael’s story because I honestly didn’t know this was and still is going on. I’m sure there are plenty of you laughing at me, like… “Where has she been?” Well, obviously in the dark. The recipe is for a pound of pot to be dropped into a cask of fermenting wine. How big is the cask? I just don’t know, but since this is being done with both Cabernet and Syrah, the “cask” is probably a 60 gallon barrel, but again, I just don’t know.

It’s like those days of Prohibition, where a brick of dried grapes would read, “After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine.” [Aaron, Paul and Musto, David. Temperance and Prohibition in America: An Historical Overview. In: Moore, Mark H., and Gerstein, Dean R. (eds.) Alcohol and Public Policy: Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1981. pp. 127-181.]

Michael finishes his story with a great quote from Crane Carter, the president of the Napa Valley Marijuana Growers and the future he envisions.

This is a fascinating little side story connected to the wine business that has taken me over 20 years to discover. Who knew?



4 Responses to “Continued Reefer Madness on Wine Blog: Another reefer in the wine business? Ah, yeah… And, it’s real this time”

  1. Ming Andrada says:

    This is awesome, where can i find this?
    by the way I also sell red and white wine to my restaurant.
    You can try it too 😉

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    It’s really an underground production… Not for sale. You just have to find the right winemaker.

  3. Wine Harlots says:

    I’m just pissed that I’ve been “scooped” again. I’m going to be in Mendo in two weeks and I’m on the quest for green… Always last with the latest…


    Nannette Eaton

  4. Jo Diaz says:


    Ha! You crack me up… and I don’t want to know there any of that (crack) in my wine.

    Also, I “hear” that there’s some of them thar wines on the Central Coast. More reason to get to Half Moon Bay to hang out for a much needed break. See what’s cooking down there.

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