There’s only one place in the world where you can get authentic Champagne. But there’s really no world class strain with the same type of reputation. This series explores areas in the world we believe have the potential to become the one and only Champagne of weed. First, we covered the Emerald Triangle in Northern California, next up, California’s Central Coast.
The Champagne Title
There are plenty of places that grow wine of different varietals and styles. Malbec or Pinot Noir, for example, don’t have the same allure. Marijuana, as you know, operates in a completely different manner. While there’s many that wish to claim the title of “best bud” producer, there’s no champagne equivalent in the world of weed that carries the same legal weight. And that’s probably a good thing. You can pretty much find dank weed all across North America.
It’s been harder to grow in some places than others because of laws that vary across states and countries. This has led to a few regions of cannabis cultivation sparking mystique in the middle of stoner circles everywhere. British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Colorado and, of course, the Emerald Triangle just north of the San Francisco Bay Area all have a reputation for powerful, well-grown, quality bud. So much so that, before legalization spread, much of the weed you would get across North America was grown in one of these places. So, since there’s no official “best cannabis” region, we’ve decided to break down the areas with historically potent pot and make an argument for why they should be considered the champagne of weed. At the end of the day it’s all for fun and we’re happy great smoke is available everywhere, but let us know if you agree and why your area is the champagne of weed!
The Central Coast
Between the technocratic order of San Francisco and the sprawling collection of cities in Southern California is the Central Coast. Across the four hundred miles long stretch are shorelines, mountains, lakes, the historic Pacific Coast Highway and the El Camino Real, a stretch of missions built by the Spanish while exploring California. The Central Coast covers Santa Barbara, Santa Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties, geographically distant from the infamous Emerald Triangle of the North and can feature a very different climate. Historically its growing trends for marijuana have been independent and charted a different trajectory.
The tradition of modest grows, like those in Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties, should have continued for at least five years under California’s legal marijuana parameters approved by voters in 2016. The law contained protections for small farmers worried they would be crushed by big agricultural interests. But the California Department of Food and Agriculture scrapped a planned 1-acre cap on cannabis farms shortly before legalization took effect. No place has benefited more from that change than the Central Coast. The region is now challenging the Emerald Triangle as the state’s capital of commercial weed.
“The Emerald Triangle produces more marijuana than the Central Coast, but most of that pot comes from smaller farms. The Central Coast now leads the state with multi-acre grows.” – The Sacramento Bee
Many farms are taking advantage of a rule that lets them cultivate weed over a larger area by obtaining multiple licenses for a single property. On the Central Coast, each grower can obtain an average of 5.75 licenses, which is 4x the Emerald Triangle of 1.62. In an extreme case out of Santa Barbara, a grower successfully received 89 licenses for a 20-acre farm.
This isn’t to say the quality or culture of Central Coast weed is strictly commercial though. The area has long been a staple in California craft cannabis. It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment of conception for what’s known as “Big Sur Holy Weed,” but local lore credits a reclusive monk named Perry, who planted seeds from a rare Mexican strain in 1965. In the early 1970s, on isolated tracts of land with no electricity, plumbing or roads, growers perfected a new horticultural technique that produced seedless marijuana, or sinsemilla.
Resinous and sticky, the region’s cannabis gained a reputation for potency. Locals recall wild “harvest parties” on bluffs overlooking the Pacific, hosted by the outlaw growers and artists complete with rituals and rich underground culture. One of the reported rituals included sacrificing the largest marijuana plant by throwing it into a bonfire. Cannabis wasn’t worth much in those days, but it helped sustain a region that had yet to become a pricey global tourism destination. Now the area is a strange combination of industry and underground. Some farms exist without full legal licenses and continue to produce the Central Coast’s sticky heritage, while others occupy massive grow operations that stretch for acres. Regardless of your experience with the area, it’s clear the Central Coast is unwilling to be left behind in California’s green gold rush.