BOSTON - "Weed the people" is not an exclusive ideal for Weed Cellars, a Los Angeles wine, beer and spirits group with Pride on its mind. "We live that mantra," said Natasha Swords, the company's Chief Marketing Officer, during a recent phone conversation with EDGE Media Network. "Weed embraces a spirit to live life on your own terms, and that's sort of how we've approached the market. Who says you can't make wine, spirits and beer under one brand name?"
Earlier this year, Weed Cellars released a Pride edition wine: a beautifully branded bottle containing a blend of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier. "If we say we are 'Weed the people,' that means all of the people. We would be remiss if we didn't include the LGBTQ community, and why wouldn't we?" said Swords. "This whole bottle screams rainbow colors, and it's something we're really quite proud of." Some things it doesn't contain? CBD or THC.
"It's been exciting to promote lesser-known varietals," said John Marini, Vice President of Sales for the Southeast Division of Weed Cellars. "It's simply a great-tasting white blend. After they try it, people will realize what a perfect wine it is for summer."
Wine enthusiasts will likely be familiar with the blend. Both grapes originated from France: Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, Viognier from the Rhone region. When combined, the two grapes often yield a full-bodied wine. On Weed Cellars' website, the 2018 Pride edition is described as having "rich notes of pear, ginger, jasmine, and honey that pair well with ricotta, salumi, shrimp, scallops, avocado, Thai food and sushi."
Later this week, The Pub at Wilton Manors will host the brand by sampling both the Pride edition and a 2017 Pinot Noir from California's Central Coast. The promotion, called "Weed Wednesday," plans to be the start of an ongoing relationship between The Pub and Weed Cellars — and one that Weed Cellars hopes will be a flagship for others in the South Florida market.
Tim Barton, General Manager of The Pub, expressed his enthusiasm for the upcoming event. "When we did our initial taste test, people really enjoyed both of these wines, and that's why we ultimately decided to go with the products," he told EDGE during a recent phone call. "In the last two to three years, we've doubled our wine selection. We've also increased our sales by offering better choices and a wider variety." In the spirit of Pride that lasts 365 days per year in Wilton Manors, buttons, stickers, T-shirts, and other giveaways from Weed Cellars will be included in Wednesday evening's event.
Several wines within the Weed Cellars portfolio — including the Pinot Noir — have earned 90+ points from The Tasting Panel, a leading trade publication for the beverage industry.
Weed Cellars also produces beer and bourbon.
"No other brand on the market transcends all three categories," said Swords. "In total, we have eight wines, a golden ale, a light beer, an award-winning bourbon and a vodka that we'll be releasing soon. There's something for everyone here. Who says you have to be one or the other?"
Swords, a beverage industry veteran, touted her company's nimble and effective product roll-out. While the Pride edition Chenin Blanc-Viognier blend is currently their only branded item for the LGBTQ community, Weed Cellars is open to the idea of creating more.
"Once we observe how our vodka and bourbon are doing in the market, we can make an informed decision of our choices," she said. "Under the leadership of our CEO Joseph Curtis, we've been able to examine the categories we currently exist in and explore new avenues for the future."
While it may be logical to think that Weed Cellars has something to do with marijuana, Marini clarified that there is nothing cannabis-related with any of their products. "It's really a play on words that just reflects the changing of the times," he said. Swords summarized the company's overall ethos in two words that we're all craving post-COVID: "Relax and enjoy!"