The pot prohibition is over in Napa County, which has local cannabis dispensaries eager to partner up with the valley’s esteemed hotels, restaurants, wineries and spas.
Just weeks after retail cannabis sales opened in the area, storefronts like The Herbivore Cannabis Dispensary have reported a nearly three-fold uptick in visitors, but beyond keeping up with these in-store transactions, some of Napa’s dispensaries are also hoping to break into the events and hospitality industry similar to how wine has. Not all of Napa's dispensaries are open to recreational sales yet — just Harvest of Napa, Perfect Union, The Herbivore and Abide — but those that are have been chomping at the bit for a while now.
People are also reading…
“Now that Napa has given us the nod, everyone from hotel groups to wine tasting lounges to nightly entertainment venues are much more willing to collaborate in our effort with both in-room advertising and now, delivery service,” said Riccardo Natoli, president of The Herbivore. “It is going to change the landscape and the revenue stream that we have been operating in for the last two years.”
The Herbivore brands itself as a luxury dispensary with a speakeasy-style store, so the idea of partnering with renowned resorts and national culinary destinations just made sense, said Natoli.
“Napa has been a two-horse town for a long time,” he said. “You’ve got wine, and arguably culinary, so the reality of having cannabis as another offering in a town like this … Each category is going to help the other.”
To push this idea into motion, Natoli and his business partner Billy Summers have started building relationships with concierges, bartenders and other service professionals in Napa, as well as helping plan cannabis-themed weddings and unique event offerings for their members. As for the hospitality industry, Natoli dreams of hotel minifridge stockings, and Summers of a world where cannabis-lovers have the information and language to discuss weed just as they would a fine wine.
“I don't think we could have the same offering in other parts of the country or other parts of the state, but Napa lends itself to people being able to say, ‘Hey, I am on vacation and I want to have a luxury experience,’” said Summers. “To me, wine, food and cannabis is the holy trinity of consumption, so let’s step in and match the level of Napa and what it has become.”
As self-proclaimed "canna-seurs," Summers and Natoli take the dank game very seriously, with Summers saying that upon opening Herbivore he didn’t just want to sell weed — he wanted to start a conversation and educate people about the plant he adores so much.
“Just like when you come to Napa Valley and your palette expands and you start knowing what wine you are drinking without reading the label because you are just entrenched in the experience … We thought we would do the same thing with cannabis,” he said.
At Napa’s Perfect Union dispensary — which is one of ten stores across northern California — the commitment to consistency and familiarity between all of the brand’s locations is another facet that is important, yet slightly changing now that recreational use has opened up in the tourist-heavy Napa Valley. According to Gershon Glezer, vice president of retail operations for Perfect Union, while the storefront’s open feel and traditional shopping aspects will be the same as their other, previously-recreational dispensaries, they are also trying some hyper-local tactics to best serve Napans.
“The other part is making sure that we have local relevance, which may mean partnering with wineries and restaurants and hotels and tourist attractions in Napa,” said Glezer. “And, hospitality has always been a great partner for cannabis, because it is a very seamless conversation and it is so specific to the person you are talking to.”
So through education and transparency — as well as targeting new customers through local initiatives and their upcoming 4/20 celebration — Glezer says that Perfect Union hopes to blend itself into the Napa community and its businesses as cannabis use becomes more accepted and mainstream.
“If you’ve never consumed, you are going to ask a ton of questions and you might want to go do some research and come back,” he said. “So for us, we want to make sure that we are just as welcoming if you are purchasing if you are not.”
You can reach Sam Jones at 707-256-2221 and email@example.com.