Are vineyards and cannabis growers compatible?

For purposes of this query, assume the cannabis smell is controlled and is no worse than broccoli or brussels sprouts. Should cannabis be grown in vineyard country? The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to ban cannabis on AG parcels of 20 acres less. Even greenhouses with no odor emissions are banned. Any thoughts or reactions?

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I’d love to see some studies done on this. My gut says it can matter, but not in nearly as many cases as a lot of grape growers believe. That’s a wild guess, though. I will say that if someone works with cannabis, the smell can permeate their clothes and be very noticeable hours after they’ve been around those plants. I don’t think that’s the case with most other crops.

Side question: is a greenhouse with no odor emissions really possible?

Doug. The cannabis growers who spoke at the Board of Supervisors said yes to your question. As a farmer I was troubled by the BOS ban on cannabis, as a crop, with no exceptions. We have broccoli and Brussels Sprouts growing across the road from our vineyard. When it is harvested three-four times per year it smells for a couple of days. No big deal to us. We would never think of asking the BOS to ban it.

I would say the smell can be absolutely intense and is not compatible in the vicinity of tasting rooms at a minimum. Additionally, there are long standing regions that are remote and perfect for cultivation with families that have relied on it for their livlihood over multiple generations that are hurting due to a permitting process favoring large growers and the subsequent overcultivation. I don’t know how the location debate should be resolved as I am fully in support of doing what you want on your own land and personally feel indoor growing is a complete waste of resources, but come mid to late flowering stage outdoor WILL permeate any tasting rooms that aren’t filtering their incoming air the same way an indoor grow would be required to filter their exhaust.

Interesting question. Would it affect the taste of the finished wine? If so, then maybe it’s an issue. And the cannabis that I smell today really stinks like a skunk, whereas the pot of my childhood pretty much smelled like burning grass. I have no clue what the growing plants are like.

As for the workers - people have been smoking around wineries for centuries. Cigars and cigarettes and if you’re a non-smoker, the smell is disgusting and the people who smell are usually completely oblivious to their odor. But did it ever affect the taste of the wine? And until emission controls were established, there were diesel fueled trucks and cars driving around vineyards, and prior to that horses crapping around vineyards. So if the aromas are just carried in the wind from time to time, it doesn’t seem like it’s fair to prohibit one crop in favor of another.

The questions for me would be the resources needed in terms of water, fertilizer, etc., and the effect on the neighbors. It’s a problem in several places that I know of - one vineyard wants to be organic and the guy next door grows some cereal crop and dumps pesticides and fertilizers on his field that run off into the vineyard. As a result, the vineyard can’t be certified.

Anyway I thought the main problem was competition for workers?

I don’t think Santa Barbara is the right terroir for cannabis. Cab’t it be grown in the desert of the Central Valley or bordering the Mojave, Palm Springs area?

In our area (the emerald triangle) weed has been grown since the late 60’s. Without getting into the underground economy that was created, it’s trying to become mainstream now.

Lots of the folks who have been in the shadows for so long are NOT adjusting well to gov’t intervention and taxation to their scene. Workers comp, water issues and all of the things grape growers have been juggling forever are weeding out (sorry too easy) some folks. The mom/pop growers are trying to stay in the shadows and are taking bigger risks.

The fight for labor is very real. I’d say in the last 3 years our costs are up 20% as we compete for farm workers.

I would have serious questions as to whether or not that claim was true. Come harvest time, it seems unlikely. A blanket ban on anything under 20 acres does seem to go way too far, though.

One of the issues that is brought up often is the use of sprays within vineyards - and the possibility of these drifting over into cannabis grows. This could lead to lawsuits filed by the cannabis growers - and this appears to be a real issue.

I posed the question in the past why Napa has not allowed ANY grow to take place - and how they’ve managed to do that in the face of the new laws.

In addition, one thing that needs to be mentioned is that at present there is no limit to the size of potential cannabis farms in SB County - something that is not common with ‘legal’ grows at all. Therefore, there are 50+ acre cannabis farms in the area - what other county ‘legally’ allows that? And from what I understand, there are enough acres planned to plant in SB County alone to fulfill the entire state’s cannabis needs . . .

This will be a long and drawn out ‘battle’ me thinks . . .

It’s been grown indoors in large-scale operations in urban areas for decades. Preventing the aromas from escaping has been a necessary cost of doing business for such operations.

I’m sure its volatile aromatic oils can be drawn into the grape tissue just like so many others are.

Yet another issue is the low-end armed security that pot growers employ to protect their crop. Another unwelcome sight in wine country.

Anyone ITB from Napa or Sonoms want to chime in here?


There is plenty of weed grown in the vicinity of several of our vineyards. If there is any side effect, it probably makes me more relaxed with those tricky picking decisions :wink:

Reaction- That it is ridiculous. It would seemingly make more sense the other way around (less than 20). Napa’s total ban is also nuts.

At a time where the premium wine industry is going through (and will be going through even more) generational & consumer change, allowing cannabis and establishing a healthy coexistence will be a huge win to the region(s) that pull it off.


I hope wine regions everywhere disallow growing of cannabis. It makes zero sense to be using land, water, and human resources that compete with high end grape growing.

Well, one could argue that it makes little sense to use resources on high-end grape growing that compete with…”real” needs. High-end grapes are a decidedly “first world” phenomenon. But here we are.

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Several winery (ok a few) winery operations in Niagara Ontario have been sold to Cannabis operations so they can grub up the vines and put up greenhouses. Lots of money being thrown around in the province right now.

This is an arbitrary argument that could easily be used in reverse. In fact, I think there are probably far more cannabis consumers in California than fine wine consumers, so the reverse might make more sense. Plus, if there is no problem in many cases, why make a problem?

I’d like to see some statistics on that. I’m positive I know more people who drink wine than who smoke, but that’s probably just my circle of friends. My underlying point is that you need great terroir to grow great wine, but you can grow cannabis anywhere. I’m not listening to arguments that “terroir” is somehow as important to cannabis as it is to wine grapes.

not sure what price point ‘fine’ is, but I’d say this is correct.

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Let’s talk about real numbers. Assume you have a low cropping but high quality Napa Vineyard. What can you get, about $5k per ton, so $10k per acre for the grapes?
You can probably get four crops of cannabis per year off an acre and earn $1-2M. Case closed.