Top of the pot: the cannabis growers cornering the luxury market

By Tiffanie Darke

It’s dawn on Alpenglow farm and a magical orange light is breaking over the ridgetop. In the valley below the ocean fog looks thick enough to walk on, but up above the plants are leaning into the sky. Fruit trees, herbs, lavender, kale and squash jostle for space. Farmers Craig and Melanie Johnson sip their coffee and “greet the plants” before their daughters get up for school. Last night they were up cracking seeds on the moon cycle for this year’s crop of “Coyote Blue”.

It’s an heirloom strain, bred by Craig, deemed by cognoscenti to be some of the finest cannabis in the world.  We are in the Emerald Triangle, a trio of counties in northern California that have been honing the artisanal craft of sun-grown cannabis long before it was legalised. Growers are now earning recognition for the distinctions of terroir, climate and strain, and California state is awarding “appellations” to such growers just as it does for vineyards. 

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