In the years since recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado, Philip Wolf, founder of Cultivating Spirits, has created a business that combines cannabis, food and wine tastings.

Now Wolf and his new business partner Branden Nadon want to expand the business into California and Nevada, which also has legalized recreational marijuana. They also want to expand into other Colorado locations.

Wolf’s idea to blend marijuana with a wine pairing experience came to him while he was visiting Barcelona, Spain. He was at a wine tasting, and realized that tourists seek out specialized experiences. As someone who had been working in the cannabis industry since its founding, he began to connect the two.

After doing research, Wolf began pairing the terpenes, the organic compound that produces the aroma in marijuana plants, with food and wine.

Cultivating Spirits offers private events. The basic package includes a three-course gourmet meal with wine designed to match the specific strains and terpenes of marijuana. Much of the experience is about educating customers about not only better ways to consume, but ways to make marijuana use safer, Wolf said that some customers won’t smoke during the event at all, but still leave learning about the product.

“This isn’t you go out, and get an eighth of OG Kush and then you eat a hamburger, this is so much bigger,” said Branden Nadon, Wolf’s new business partner.

Nadon joined Wolf recently and joked that he’s still so new he didn’t have an official title. He’s hoping to work on the back end of the business so that Wolf can go back to networking with contacts throughout the cannabis industry, as well as making new contacts in the culinary world. One of Wolf’s goals is to tap into the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen.

“This is something that’s changing our culinary culture,” Wolf said.

Now that recreational marijuana has been legalized in California and Nevada, Nadon said that they are hoping to expand the business into the untapped tourism markets of those areas. He also has plans to expand to other Colorado locations.

“We tested the model in Summit County by doing our food, wine and cannabis tours, and once we saw that they worked, we decided to go after the big picture,” Wolf said.

Wolf has predictions on where the industry will head once sales begin in states that voted to legalize this past November. Nevada, California, Maine and Massachusetts all voted to legalize and their new laws will go into effect in January of 2018. Now that the entirety of the West Coast has recreational laws, Wolf plans to spread his business, starting with Las Vegas.

“Las Vegas would be the first out-of-state site,” Wolf said. “We’re looking at Sonoma, Napa … and then San Francisco, ultimately that Bay Area is going to be the financial hub of the cannabis industry in the future.”

Since starting his business in 2014, Wolf said that the response to pairing a culinary experience with marijuana has been bigger than he anticipated, starting a new trend in the cannabis industry.

But despite the success of Cultivating Spirits and his other ventures such as the Cannabis Wedding Expo, Wolf said that there are still roadblocks to navigate. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, businesses are unable to go through traditional lending routes. Wolf also said that networking can be a tiring process because while some people are curious and want to learn about the industry, they may still be unwilling to become investors due to the stigma of the product. The industry is also still in its infancy, with recreational sales entering their third year in Colorado. Businesses have to face gray areas with questions that may not have solid answers.

“It’s been an interesting ride because then you’re also dealing with the challenges of operating in the cannabis industry,” Wolf said. “It’s still the cannabis industry so it’s not easy.”

Original article via SummitDaily