What the Best Hemp Manufacturers Have Learned from the Wine Industry
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Any experienced wine aficionado can tell with one sip the geographic area where the grapes used to create a wine were grown. Wine inherits characteristics from the soil where the grapes were grown, the climate of the site that produced it, and the practices of the winemaker. The educated palate can detect subtle nuances, fragrant notes, or distinguishing flavors that serve as undeniable proof of a wine's region of origin. In the United States, we call these regions American Viticultural Areas (AVA). There are currently 252 AVAs in 33 states across the country.
As grape cultivation and winemaking increased across the United States over the past 50 years, smaller wineries began producing more wines from locally grown varietals. Today, there are wineries in all 50 states, and more parts of the country are developing their own "wine countries." What was once considered a solely New York state or California industry has expanded to include Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Colorado. Colorado now touts more than 130 licensed wineries and nearly 1,000 acres of vineyards producing more than 150,000 cases of wine a year.
Although the burgeoning hemp and CBD industry in the United States has not yet reached this level of sophistication, there is every indication it is evolving in that direction. And there is an excellent reason: The similarities between the two crops and their resulting products are many. Winemakers choose the genetics and agricultural regions for their desired characteristics. Just as the Willamette Valley in Oregon has the ideal microclimate for the flavors and other features of a pinot noir, the High Rockies of Colorado are ideal for creating some of the finest terpene profiles in the cannabis or the hemp plant. For both wine and hemp, small-batch producers make the most desired and highest-quality products on the market.
While CBD available at any roadside gas station or convenience store may have become commonplace, true connoisseurs of craft products crave uniqueness and attention to quality. And these consumers are actively searching for and finding small-batch products that exceed their previous expectations of CBD. Here's how to craft CBD producers are meeting this demand:
Keep a 'farmers first' approach
Smart CBD companies have recognized that quality products begin with quality hemp. This means being farmers first, and applying meticulous agriculture standards to hemp cultivation to produce consistent, high-quality CBD. When it comes to farming, giving each plant constant attention from the grower creates the best outcomes. Large-scale grows cannot provide plants with this personal touch. Also, smaller farms focused on quality can engage organic agricultural and responsible water use practices to cultivate each hemp plant carefully.
Reduce processing to ensure consistency
When it comes to consistency, both wine and CBD products will vary from one batch or harvest to the next. Many large-scale producers attempt to create artificial consistency between batches through high levels of processing with the grape's juices or the oils from the hemp flower. However, vintners and CBD producers that focus on high-quality crops can maintain varying consistency parameters by blending grapes or hemp oils from multiple genetics or separate harvests. This requires minimal processing and allows CBD producers to take advantage of the full entourage effect in creating products that behold all the goodness Mother Nature has to offer. Why would one strive to grow the highest-quality plants wish to degrade that quality through high processing levels?
Related: CBD Is More Like Wine Than You Think
Engage in quality extraction practices
Because the CBD industry is so young, hemp agriculture and CBD manufacturing are in a "Wild West" stage. Just as wine producers practice quality winemaking practices, responsible CBD producers utilize quality extraction processes and meticulously managed facilities to create the highest-quality products. The extraction process used and any potential contamination from the facility used in extraction can significantly impact product quality. There are various approaches to the extraction process that create vastly different outcomes and affect the product's potency and overall quality.
As more and more consumers come to appreciate these craft products, the day may not be far off when avid CBD customers discuss the finer points of a product, its agricultural origin, the region's attributes, and where it is produced—just as wine enthusiasts do today. In the coming years, the CBD industry has an opportunity to capture the imaginations of this growing craft-focused market.
Harvey Craig is CEO of Harvey's All Naturals, a Colorado-based company that has been guiding small farmers in responsible hemp production and educating the community on the many benefits of the plant since 2015.