[Canniseur: The wine industry can coexist with the cannabis industry in Napa, but both need to respect each other. This is important as we normalize cannabis in our culture.]
There’s an old saying that preaches “as goes California, so goes the nation,” which refers to California as the longtime leader of American lifestyle and culture. So, when it comes to culinary and beverage trends, it should be no shock that most foodies’ favorite modern luxuries began first as local preferences of persnickety Californians. Farm-to-table dining, craft beer and pre-prohibition cocktail bars are just a few of the movements which began first as California concepts. And while New York City may rival the dining and cocktail scene of San Francisco, when all the fine organic produce and grapes are grown in Northern California, it’s only fitting that the accompanying new age concepts should also be rooted in NorCal soil. Now, with adult-use cannabis sales taking effect in California in 2018, there’s a new crop making waves from the Wild West. And with her comes a whole new spectrum of varieties and methods, now available to consume this miraculous plant.
For many, cannabis is as much as part of the California way as road trips and farmer’s markets. But perhaps, for equally just as many, cannabis and the new wide world of varieties is more intimidating than the wine list at French Laundry.
Have no fear, the women are here. We have brilliant women to thank for groundbreaking products such as infused tea and epsom bath salts, low dose edibles, superfood concoctions, vegan gummies and even products for our moon cycle. One main reason for this current growth is that women have long been ignored in cannabis product development and marketing, despite being an equally large share of the consumer market. So leave it to the women to start creating products to serve their own needs, and the needs of their fellow women, simply because no one else was thinking of them.
And now, just in time for graduations, pool parties and wedding season comes House of Saka — the first cannabis luxury brand to include infused beverages — launched by women, for women.
Saka was introduced to me on a crisp, spring evening at a beautiful vineyard located at the top of Napa Valley in the lavish and private hills of Calistoga. The attendees of the Saka event included an intimate crowd carefully curated with the perfect mix of high powered executives and influencers from both the cannabis and wine industries.
With the waxing of the powerful pink moon, the sky perfectly matched the rose Saka that was offered to guests. In crystal wine glasses, Saka was tasted and served alongside other varietals of traditional wine, as well as another cannabis-infused, alcohol-free beverage, HiFi Hops. As we were in Napa, wine varietals were also fabulously paired and free-flowing, but I opted to remain alcohol-free and consume only the Saka. I had to know, how different could a night out in wine country feel, if THC replaced the alcohol in the wine?
Saka is offered as rosé-inspired still and sparkling brut, both made from grapes but alcohol-free, and dare I say, just as delicious, if not more than your typical glass of rosé. And no, it doesn’t taste at all like cannabis. This is what will set Saka Infusions apart from other cannabis-infused beverages currently available to consumers. Sipping Saka gave light floral and citrus notes with a hint of earthiness. With very little acid, it’s refreshing and resembles a French dry cider. The effects were felt within 15-20 minutes and produced a very nice, light buzz. Actually, a very present buzz, in fact, after a few glasses, I still felt significantly more present than I have after a few glasses of wine. More enhanced happiness, openness and giggles flowed with each refill poured.
Saka is named after an ancient society of female warriors who once ruled the world and conquered all they desired. The ancient civilization of the Saka used cannabis in their deep rituals and rights of passage to provide enlightenment and well-being, for courage and fortitude. In co-founder Tracy Mason’s opening speech, she proudly stated “the Saka were the OG female bad*sses,” and this evening “celebrated them, along with the many modern ones without whom we would not be here.”
Connecting with the cosmic synergies of the full moon, Mason spoke of the beauty, rebirth and renewal it brings. The energy was feminine, powerful and inspiring, without feeling too girly. House of Saka is the brainchild of founder and cannabis industry media and tech entrepreneur, Cynthia Salarizedah. Saka’s female founders are also advised by an exceptional board of all female, powerful advisors like the brilliant Mara Gordon, the prolific legal genius Rebecca Stamey White of San Francisco’s top wine industry law firm, leading industry investors Emily Paxhia and Tahira Rehmatullah and political icon, Gale Kaufmann to name just a few.
The Saka event felt more like a high-end winemaker’s event rather than a cannabis beverage launch. For too long cannabis has been hidden, pushed outside and segmented away from mainstream society due to negative stigma, ignorance and outdated views and regulations. For decades, we were told that alcohol is OK and marijuana is bad, while we watched alcohol wreak havoc on many American lives while cannabis users were thrown in jail.
The new era has arrived, and with it the truth has come to set us free from those false beliefs. Cannabis is here, nearly harmless and is actually helping many women (and men) live their best life. It doesn’t need to replace the glass of wine, as we know wine’s not going anywhere, but thanks to House of Saka, we now have a fabulous, hangover and calorie-free beverage that we can proudly pour in any decadent (or home) setting.