Santa Rosa wine executive notes heightened winery interest in cannabis sector – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The lines between the wine industry and the cannabis sector are blurring with more wine companies poised to enter the market as marijuana legalization at the federal level appears inevitable, a top local wine executive said Thursday.

Terry Wheatley, president of Vintage Wine Estates of Santa Rosa, said wine producers are increasingly looking at prospects in the cannabis drink business where there were $421 million in U.S. sales last year. That drink segment is projected to reach $1 billion in annual revenue by 2025.

“There are so many similarities between wine and weed,” Wheatley said at the 5th annual Wine & Weed Symposium held in person at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country hotel in Santa Rosa.

Wheatley should know. Besides her leadership role at Vintage Wine Estates, which recently became a stockholder-owned company, Wheatley sits on the board of directors of CannaCraft. That’s the Santa Rosa firm that processes cannabis into oils, drinks and food products and distributes them to licensed pot dispensaries. It is the second-largest cannabis producer in California.

The wine and cannabis industries have emerged from the worst of the pandemic with different trajectories. Long dominant in the North Coast over the past few decades, the wine industry has been contending with flat sales, greater risks from wildfires and a renewed push for consolidation by wineries trying to remain viable in the long run.

In contrast, investors have been flooding into the cannabis market looking to capitalize in the prime growing region of the Emerald Triangle counties of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity. Meanwhile, Sonoma County has become a key hub for processing the plant into various consumer products.

U.S. sales of legal marijuana grew during the pandemic and are slated for further increases as 19 states have so far legalized weed for recreational use. Still, the

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