What type of skills does an experienced Cannabis Sommelier have to offer and where are these types of professionals most needed?
We explore these questions at depth in our new series Being a Cannabis Sommelier, where we discuss the real world problems that experienced Cannabis Sommeliers can help solve.
In today’s article, our Headmaster Adolfo Gonzalez discusses a troubling trend in today’s market that finds its solution in the practice of detail oriented product appreciation and community building.
The pheno hunt dilemma: Identifying the problem
Typicity. More cannabis companies need to understand what this word means and why it is so important when bringing any cultivar to market.
Typicity is a term that cannabis sommeliers borrowed from the world of wine to describe the extent to which a particular cultivar accurately reflects its known characteristics based on its claimed origins.
In other words, if you are growing DJ Short’s Blueberry, your end product should reek of blueberries. And we do mean reek. There is nothing ‘kinda blueberry’ about a well-selected Blueberry pheno.
Let’s rewind. What is a pheno hunt?
When growers source seed stock, they cannot simply germinate their seeds and expect to get an exact replica of the mother plant that produced them because the offspring from a single seedline can show a range of varying traits.
Phenotype refers to the physical characteristics displayed by a specific plant, as triggered through the interaction between the plant’s environment and its genetic code.
Hence, a pheno hunt is aimed at selecting the offspring that bears the most desirable traits.
There is just one problem.
Selecting a high-quality and accurate version of any classic cultivar requires intimate knowledge of how that particular cultivar should look and smell according to the expectations of discerning customers who are already familiar with it.
This type of first-hand knowledge is inescapably essential for anyone trying to locate and/or develop a worthy representative of a classic cultivar.
But how many companies will have the wisdom to hire people who actually understand the typical attributes of a classic cultivar at its optimal expression?
The answer is, obviously not too many, as we can see by the many bland and boring offerings that still make up the bulk of the market.
All-time favorites like Blueberry, Exodus Cheese, and old school Skunk—all of which we are personally obsessed with—are nowhere to be seen in most legal markets or are the result of uninspired genetic sourcing, phenotype selection and production methods.
Even some of the hottest new-school cultivars that are released into the market quickly fizzle out because producers do not understand the quality standards and characteristics that are needed to impress discerning consumers.
And keep in mind that irrevocably, hot names draw attention.
There is no quicker way to sink a brand than by drawing attention to a poorly executed product. Hype can quickly turn to hurt in this world.
The launch of DNA Genetics’ classics like Kosher Kush by Tweed is perhaps one of the best real-world examples of good genetics gone wrong due to poor production expertise and a complete disregard for typicity.
Getting on the right path
Our industry chronically underestimates the process required to effectively launch genetics that already have an established name and following.
At the center of every business model in this industry is the plant itself, but few understand how to build their business around the cultivars that they represent.
Companies like Cookies are only now starting to show the legal industry what everyone in the illicit sector already knew: It’s what comes out of the jar that makes or breaks you—not marketing!
Building cannabis brands around high quality in-house genetics is actively proving to be ever more successful than the vague and plainly empty ‘lifestyle’ branding that most classically trained marketers have been pitching.
The type of expertise needed to understand quality and typicity at a high level is essential in all aspects of brand building, but nowhere is it as important as when deciding what to grow because without the right plant at the foundation, it is impossible to reach excellence.
How CannaReps help you get there
Becoming a Cannabis Sommelier starts with specialized training in developing the nose, eyes, and touch to identify quality cannabis.
Training in typicity takes us to the next level as it is the accumulation of personal experience and vast exposure to various cultivars.
CannaReps teaches the methods needed to systematically determine typicity not only through the practice of repeatedly studying cultivars, but also through community building.
No one person could ever taste everything that the market has to offer because by the time you would have completed this arduous task there would be hundreds of new cultivars to taste!
Twice a month, CannaReps graduates from all over the world gather to discuss the cultivars that have gained popularity in their region, their typical features and we break down why they are so loved by consumers and growers alike.
In end, becoming a bonafide expert means dedication and working within a community of like-minded people that lift each other up.
Get your Cannabis Sommelier Certificate from the oldest and most respected cannabis training organization in BC, Canada. Build your skillset and join our community of hundreds of weed geeks from around the world! Sign up at www.cannabissommelier.com today.