Podcast – Learning from the Cannabis World – In Conversation with The Garden Society

With Erin Gore and Karli Warner, founders of The Garden Society, we explore the growing world of Cannabis. As we explore their strong ethos, we also draw many parallel between their world and the Fine Wine Ecosystem, discussing millennials, language, terroir & provenance, and responsibility.

Founded by Erin Gore and Karli Warner and based in Sonoma, California, The Garden Society aspires to become the most positive and trusted cannabis brand for women by delivering exceedingly great products that turn down the daily chaos and turn up the joy.

A conversation to debulk clichés on cannabis

In a rush? Here are some of the major takeaways.

The Garden Society is based on very strong values, ethos and ambitious vision. Could you tell us a bit more about your inspiration behind them all and the trends that maybe made it all possible?

” Our first value is Uncompromising quality. We dedicate most of our time to source high quality cannabis, grown outside in particular sites, and work with partners, like our chocolatiers, working with fairtrade product. Education is another super strong value. We know that women are faced with so many challenges regardless of where they come from that being able to educate them in how cannabis could help is essential. Not only in how to bring back appetite when going through chemo or turning down physical pain but also that it is ok to use cannabis to bring you joy and relief.”

Karli, you worked within the world of wine before and both of you are in Sonoma county. What are the main differences and common points between the world of wine and the cannabis world?  

We see people here in Sonoma coming so hungry for the experience of nature, farm to table, organic wine country. So in a way, we built our company on values championed by the wine industry here, and based it on this existing demand for authenticity and direct access to quality.

At Constellation we had so much data at out fingertips, we have consumers categories, we have personae etc…That is something that we don’t have for cannabis, the market is too new. And what I found really interesting is that in the wine world we were looking at how and when they were consuming. In the cannabis world, we are looking at why they are consuming and why they are choosing the different forms of cannabis. As a result of that, we streamlined our products based on their effects.

“We can explain to our consumers how cannabis is processed should they be interested, but our role is to be there for them, and help them find what they need, whether I feel that sometimes the wine world is the other way around.”

The Wine industry is seeing cannabis as real competition, taking away some of precious market shares when it comes notably to the younger generation. Are we right to be afraid? How do you see wine on your side of things? Is your audience really that young?

“Actually, we have a lot of older female consumers, and when you think about it, it is not that surprising as they have been overlooked a lot by the drink industry, and we know that women and babyboomers are crucial for us in terms of growth.”

“Millennials see right through the bullshit. They want the authenticity, they want the story behind it, and they want to be able to authentically share it with their friends. Engaging them on a level that’s more about the ‘why,’ that emotional connection I think has fallen back a little bit for wine.” 

“I think the millennials are there for anyone’s taking who can bring them an authentic story and tell them why this will make their life more positive and more joyful.”

Working with an addictive substance – just like fine wine is- how do you maintain the balance between integrating your products into people lifestyle and your responsibility to promote moderation?

Science shows that its effect on our system works really differently than alcohol in the body. It doesn’t create addiction and doesn’t lead to over-consumption problem, there is no documented case of overdosing on cannabis. There is now medical proof that cannabis helps with pain, when alcohol does not, far from it.
It is a big differentiator that allows us to speak about it differently.
But we do have to promote responsibility because cannabis is mind altering. So it has to be consumed mindfully, in the safety of your home, always being in control, and we do have to be very careful in our language and how we use it.

Looking through your website, one can only be impressed by your language and the way you manage to position quality cannabis into people’s life. Is there such a thing as “Fine” cannabis? Do you see your brand as a luxury one?

We quickly realised that by positioning ourselves as a luxury cannabis company we were alienating a large base of consumers that were interested by the experience. What we promote is not luxury, but instead high quality ingredients and a conveyance of a farm-to-table lifestyle, related to notions like organic, outdoor grown, or biodynamic.

Let’s talk about some of the sacred cows of Fine Wine and the concept of culture, terroir, vintage and crus. Are they relevant in your world?

“There is a movement in Northern California to work on appellations and terroirs because of course provenance matters for cannabis quality, and the consumer is slowly starting to realise that, but the project is in its infancy. But when legalisation happens, it is going to be super important for differentiation. Because it’s no longer just about the brands, elevated consumers care about provenance.”

“I wrote so many tasting notes when I was in the wine world. It’s been so fun rediscovering that in the cannabis world. So we talk about flavours, terpenes and aromatics too. I am excited for more than that, but I am not sure the consumer is ready for more than that at the moment.”

“Imagine doing a vertical of smoking the same “Blue Dream” from the same farm over 4 years? I mean, how cool would that be? But that experience doesn’t exist in today’s world.”

Do you build a brand in wine the same way that you build a brand in cannabis?

“The fundamentals are the same but the main difference between building a wine brand and building a cannabis brand right now is we literally have to build everything. There is no infrastructure, no examples. We have to start from scratch, from building the supply chain to creating a new language around our products.”

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