Time To Put the Bong Down and Saddle Up, Your Winery Needs You!


I didn’t really know how to approach this one. There’s going to be stigma about marijuana for a long time to come even though it’s now legal in California. It’s just another crop that the vines have to compete with for space, labour, and water. As I was finding out in my recent trip to the West Coast of the US, it’s a fight that the wine guys are pretty nervous about! 

No Moral Issue

I’m all for the legalisation of pot. I have this theory, rightly or wrongly, that everyone has some kind of vice. Mine’s wine. Some people smoke ciggies. Other people smoke pot. The hypocracy of someone who works in the wine industry saying it should remain banned would be pretty staggering given you’re pedaling a drug yourself for a living. So when it was made legal in California, I don’t think it was objected to on any moral basis.


The huge problem is that it’s now just another commercial crop that winegrowers need to compete with. And the competition is all about the most precious resources any farmer these days can imagine; workers and water.

Labour Issues

The Californian wine industry relies quite heavily on Mexican labour for the temporary spike periods of harvest time and spring pruning, when the wineries are at their busiest. There are a limited number of these guys and girls kicking around, so competition between wineries is fierce to pay a good wage and be a good place to work. And now the marijuana industry has kicked open the saloon doors and is offering to pay up to ten times the wage the wine-o’s can pay. That’s not good at all, and that’s even before we’ve spoken about this ridiculous wall thingy that would just make it so much worse!

Water Rights

Also the water situation around the world is getting drastic. The wine industry has to take a large slug of responsibility for that, especially the big brand, bulk wine making techniques of the past 20 years. Now though, most areas are on meters and pay huge premiums for their water. Again this marijuana plant, not far at all from the vineyard sites, is not a good neighbour. The plants drink like they’re a Geordie lass at a free bar. It is crippling the amount of this precious resource available, and will send prices skyrocketing.

Think It Through

So come on America, have a think. Legalise it by all means, but it’s not enough to plant it and sit back and hum along to the Allman Brothers. You need to legislate to protect the other agricultural industries around, primarily the fabulous, but currently slightly nervous, Californian wine industry.


15 thoughts on “Time To Put the Bong Down and Saddle Up, Your Winery Needs You!”

  1. Thoughful post. I live in Northern California myself, and while I’ve read a few articles expressing concern that the younger set will opt for pot over wine, this is the first I’ve read exploring the limited resources angle. Well done.
    – Kent

  2. Who would have knew that wine is now competing with weed, that was interesting, by the way tell the truth…. you didn’t go there for the wine you just went there to have some joints………

  3. Very interesting approach! Will it be the other way round in the Netherlands, where pot was first and the winemakers are only now slowly picking up pace?


  5. I may not necessarily have to compete with vine for the water. The cannabis plant is real hardy and can thrive on next to nothing. It produces more of the potent stuff while struggling to survive.
    Growers in North Africa don’t water and their climatic conditions must be very similar to parts of California. Morocco produces some of the best hash (made by the resin from the flowers) and it is very dry there, in the Riff mountains.
    I think it is possible to grow without watering in California.
    And just for the record, several of the vices you mention combine just fine.

      1. Choice of strain probably. I bet they cultivate the super potent strains: feminized seeds, hydroponically grown, cloned. Lab tampered, that sort of seeds, offsprings of the Dutch works that require a lot of care and energy.

        In Morocco, Lebanon and Afghanistan, home of the plant, they just grow them with a minimum of care, often no fertilisers nor water. They let the plants flower and germinate (making the weed full of seeds), then harvest and leave plants to dry in the field. Then they sieve the dry plants and compress the powder and you got hash.
        Californians should learn to smoke hash instead of weed, it tastes much, much better too, a total win win.

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