Experts from both industries will provide an overview of the cannabis industry as well as topics ranging from what is legal to regulations surrounding licensing, hospitality, growing and other topics of interest specific to the north coast.
Hezekiah Allen was born at home and raised off the grid in rural Humboldt County. Blending more than a decade as a successful commercial cannabis grower with a background in Politics and Government, Hezekiah now works as the Executive Director of the California Growers Association. Cal Growers is the largest association of cannabis businesses and growers in California. As Executive Director, Allen is a lead expert helping to inform the cannabis policy making process in Sacramento. Under his leadership Cal Growers has successfully advocated for the establishment of an appellation system for cannabis, championed policies to ensure lower fees for smaller farms, sponsored legislation to establish a special license for cottage scale growers and is the state's’ leading voice for the independent farms and businesses that make California cannabis craft.
A northern California native, after earning his BA in International Relations from UC Irvine in 2002, Brian spent years traveling, living, and working abroad tallying up 48 unique stamps in his passport and a handful of work visas. He landed back home in the bay area in 2013 and shortly thereafter, began planning his escape from the corporate machine. With a passion for cannabis culture and cannabis history, Brian launched The Cannabis Trail; a non-profit dedicated to preserving and celebrating the cannabis heritage in northern California. Emerald Country Tours came shortly thereafter, a cannabis tour company spotlighting the legalized cannabis industry and the unique bohemian cannabis culture in northern California. His latest project was establishing the California Cannabis Tourism Association in fall 2017. Education, preserving the history and sharing the unique cannabis-infused culture of his home, all drive his passion and daily work in the industry.
"Being invited to present at the California Travel Association Summit in San Diego in 2018 was a very memorable moment on my journey. It was an acheivement that signified a true quantifiable progress in the normalization and acceptance of not just cannabis as an industry, but the emerging cannabis tourism niche in the greater already established travel and tourism industry."
"A new kind of pairing comes to mind. Certain cannabis strains have the unique ability to sharpen the palate, accentuate flavors, magnify texture and simply boost the overall sensory experience. In time, I envision cannabis being paired as a precursor to an amazing farm to table dinner or wine tasting."
"The biggest misconception about cannabis tourism is the typical assumption of high THC consumption and getting extremely stoned or altered. These stereotypes are out-dated, untrue, and do NOT accurately reflect the cannabis tourism niche. Rather, cannabis tourism is drenched in health and wellness, education of plants and their therapeutic properties, compelling history, and fascinating culture."
Kim Badenfort comes to the Wine Industry Network with a professional and academic background in communications with a focus on online multimedia content creation and management. Before joining WIN he designed websites and administrated content for a number of small businesses and non-profits, as well as wrote and edited copy for blogs and other social media contracts. He also brings valuable experience in teaching/education, technical support, project management, and public affairs.
Originally from Denmark, Kim has resided in Northern California for over a decade and adores living in the heart of the beautiful wine country with its rich wine and nature experiences.
Prior to founding VingDirect in 2009, Tammy served as the head of Foster's Wine Estates U.S. Direct to Consumer division. In this role, she was acting President of Windsor Vineyards from 2005-2007 and President of International Wine Accessories from 2004-2007. Windsor Vineyards is the largest U.S. shipper of wine direct to consumer and utilizes outbound telemarketing as the primary sales channel. Tammy has 20+ years direct marketing and general management experience, beginning with her position at Collin Street Bakery in 1990 as General Manager of Cryer Creek Kitchens, a producer of specialty baked goods. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and passionate about helping family wineries grow their direct to consumer sales. VingDirect is the recipient of the North Bay Business Journal's 2014 award for direct to consumer in the wine industry.
Hilary V. Bricken is a partner at Harris Bricken in its Los Angeles office. Licensed to practice law in California, Washington, and Florida, she is one of the premier cannabis business and regulatory attorneys in the United States. As chair of Harris Bricken’s Regulated Substances practice group, which includes the Canna Law Group, she helps cannabis companies of all sizes with their cannabis related legal issues.
In 2013, based on her work in the marijuana industry, The Puget Sound Business Journal named Ms. Bricken one of seven Dealmakers of the Year. From 2014 through 2017, she was named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine. Also in 2015, the Puget Sound Business Journal named Hilary to its Top 40 Under 40 list for business and leadership, and in 2017 the American Bar Association named Hilary a Top 40 Under 40 “On the Rise” attorney in the United States. Hilary also authors a weekly column for Above the Law that features content on marijuana policy and regulation, and Hilary is a regular contributor to and editor of her firm’s Canna Law Blog.
"We’re going to see progressive stabilization and increased and then decreased regulations. Right now, tax and price points are on the higher end, but that will relax as the market matures. We’ll also regulators develop really comprehensive regulation in some areas (like increased advertising and packaging and labeling rules) and then a kind of winding down over time as they focus on emerging industry issues and build more trust with operators as well as a better understanding of the production chain. We’ll also see an increase in litigation on the consumer safety side as well as ownership disputes and contract breaches amongst licensees. And we’ll also see a secondary M&A market for the purchase of these licensed businesses by third parties that waited it out, and we’ll see a consolidation as smaller businesses began to fail and larger businesses buy them up. "
"Years ago, a criminal defense attorney came to our firm with a large book of business that revolved around defending medical cannabis patients that had been arrested for possession and related low level state law crimes. He let us know that this book of clients was starting to want to know more about business—IP, contracts corporate structuring, taxes, etc.—and he didn’t want to become a business lawyer or take the time to dabble in that area, so he asked if we would be interested. We said yes and the demand for legitimate, solid business legal advice was and remains immensely high."
"Probably coming up with the right tax rate that will be competitive with the black market but that will not encourage habitual use by consumers. Also, consumer protection and products liability are moving targets when it comes to regulation, and testing will be a huge impediment as inconsistencies and errors arise. Also, what products should and should not be on the market will continue to fluctuate."
"Going on eight years now, my practice has been almost entirely dedicated to cannabis business and regulatory issues. In 2017, I was named to the ABA’s 40 under 40 for the entire country and my submission detailed everything in my cannabis practice. Knowing that the ABA recognizes my practice on that level when cannabis remains federally illegal is by far my greatest accomplishment."
Erin Carlstrom is Senior Counsel with DP&F and leads the firm’s cannabis group. Erin’s practice includes state and local compliance, corporate formation and compliance, land use, and government relations. Erin has specific expertise in land use entitlements and navigating the various regulatory agencies governing Cannabis activities, and has been responsible for major project developments across California. Erin’s experience offers clients comprehensive support from seed to sale, including transitioning from collective operations to for-profit corporations, applying for and prosecuting permit applications, and developing strategic collaborations.
Erin represents cannabis producers, farmers, manufacturers, labs, distributors and dispensaries, as well as investment groups interacting with all sectors, in matters ranging from collective formation and transition, operations management, land use and state and local compliance. She has spoken at a variety of conferences on topics ranging from impacts from local ordinances, to the interplay between cannabis and other agricultural industries, and coalition building for effective government relations.
Prior to joining DP&F, Erin practiced in government relations, land use, and corporate issues at a cannabis-focused boutique law firm. While there, Erin worked on successful general plan amendments, development of local ordinances, and project appeals as well as local entitlements. Erin served on the Santa Rosa City Council, including a term as Vice Mayor, and twice chaired the cannabis subcommittee. Erin’s work helped position Santa Rosa as one of the state’s most progressive cannabis communities, forming predictable and business-friendly paths to operation.
While in law school, Erin was an intern for the Department of Justice and Screen Actors Guild, and was a summer associate with Neighborhood Legal Services, a nonprofit providing legal service to victims of domestic violence. Erin has a long history with progressive politics, working in electoral campaigns and social advocacy movements for more than a decade.
Erin lives in Santa Rosa with her son, Adlai.
George Christie, a New Jersey native, settled in Sonoma County after college in 1991 where he quickly realized that the wine industry was where he wanted to concentrate his efforts. Since that time, he has been involved in nearly every aspect of the wine industry, from vineyard operations and grower relations to distributor realignments and national marketing campaigns. Always an active member in the wine community, Christie has also held board positions with the Russian River Wine Road, Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley and the Sonoma County Vintners. In 2008, George and his wife Tami, along with the Saini Family, partnered to create Saini Vineyards, a winery specializing on Old Vine Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley.
In 2009, with Elizabeth 'E' Slater, George launched the Wine Industry Network (WIN). What began as an online directory has evolved over the years into one the leading B2B marketing and media companies serving the wine industry. WIN works with over 600 industry product and service providers and produces the Wine Industry Expo (WIN Expo), the 2nd largest trade show for the wine industry, along with the Wine & Weed Symposium, the Wine Industry Advisor news site and the Afternoon Brief daily news email with over 35,000 industry subscribers.
Chris Coulombe is the CEO of Pacific Expeditors, an award-winning state-wide cannabis distribution company that specializes in logistics and fulfillment operations as well as government relations and business consulting. He has over 16-years of operational planning experience and is responsible for developing and leading one of the largest cannabis distribution operations in the state of California.
Chris works closely with regulators and lawmakers on cannabis distribution in the State of California. He has met with several California legislators, the Governor's office, and the CHP leadership in an effort to improve and better understand the regulatory environment for cannabis distributors.
He is also a founding member of the Cannabis Distribution Association, an industry trade group of over 30 distribution companies in the US dedicated to providing education and a voice to decision makers on behalf of distributors nationally.
Before entering the cannabis space, Chris served in the military for 16-years and has led teams of four to organizations over two hundred. He has been hand-picked to lead specialized teams and institutional development schools. As well, he has planned for and facilitated the support of operations for organizations of over 1,100 members.
Chris holds a B.A. in Politics from the University of San Francisco and an M.A. in Corporate Diplomacy from the oldest private military university in the US, Norwich University.
He also served in his former Boy Scout Council as the Council President of 1000 Scouting youth and 2000 adult volunteers in 2017-2018; if Chris has a cause it is building the future through our decisions and actions and preparing our youth to be ready to make their future better than we could for them.
Zack Crafton grew up on the East Coast, just outside of Washington DC. After a few years as a national security consultant (including stints in the Pentagon and White House), he moved to Atlanta, GA where he ran operations for McMaster-Carr. While in Atlanta, Zack earned his MBA and after 6 years, he left the south to join his brother in Napa CA. Zack consulted for a few high profile wineries before joining a little-known wine startup, NakedWines. For 3 years, Zack ran the operations for NakedWines serving as Global Operations Director and ultimately Vice President of Operations. He left in mid-2017 to apply his direct to consumer and luxury agriculture skill set to the cannabis industry. He now serves as CEO and Founder of BigMoonSky.com.
"Our team primarily comes out of the wine industry and there was a reason we chose cannabis and a reason why I went and hired out of the wine industry. When you interview someone who is an operations director and they’re used to shipping jeans or clothing and then you talk to someone who does the same thing somewhere in the wine industry, it’s very different. It’s a very different job with the regulatory requirements.
I think there is there’s a lot of overlap in the market for the two products and there is opportunity for folks who are very adept at farming and at selling a luxury agriculture product like wine, that can easily parlay those skills in selling another luxury agriculture product like cannabis."
"There are going to be some difficulties and some turmoil in the California cannabis industry over the next 18, 24 months. I think what you’ll see, after that, is a set of solid companies offering great products to consumers and also understanding that it’s very important to operate in a business-friendly way, with folks who we share resources with.
I don’t think the cannabis industry is going to overtake the wine industry, by any stretch of the imagination. I own a wine brand as well... and I wholeheartedly believe that wine, especially great wine, is going to continue to be a really strong industry in this country, and globally. That being said, I think both the cannabis industry and the wine industry can absolutely live in harmony."
"Oh my goodness, yes! Many. Like wine, you’re starting to see a lot of premiumization around the packaging. People are starting to move away from brown paper bags and you’re starting to see things that are a little more appealing to the eye. Things are a little more informative about the product.
We’re also being taxed like crazy, so a lot of similarities there too. The cannabis taxes are pretty high. The regulatory stuff has a lot of overlap. It’s modeled after the alcohol industry."
David Downs is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author who leads cannabis news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He's the former cannabis editor at the San Francisco Chronicle where he launched GreenState.com. Downs co-authored of 2017 crop science book Marijuana Harvest by Ed Rosenthal. Downs has guest lectured at Loyola Law School, and UC Berkeley Extension, and shared in a 2018 Scripps Howard Award for Breaking News for his “Wine Country Fires” reporting.
Jamie Evans is the founder of The Herb Somm, a cannabis blog and lifestyle brand that is focused on the gourmet side of the cannabis industry. She is an educator, host, and writer specializing in cannabis, food, recipes, wine, and the canna-culinary world.
In addition to her work in the cannabis industry, Jamie has over ten years of wine industry experience. Having represented a wide array of organizations and wineries, she is best known for producing high-end events and developing top-notch public relations, marketing, and hospitality programs. Jamie is also a contributor to POPSUGAR and MARY Magazine specializing in cannabis recipes and cannabis lifestyle pieces.
Born and raised in Truckee, CA, Jamie’s roots extend back to South Dakota farm families. She developed a love for wine and agriculture while earning her degree in Wine and Viticulture, with a concentration in Wine Business at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. As an avid traveler, she expanded her knowledge and explored different regions where she studied enology and viticulture at The University of Adelaide, Australia and The Engineering School of Enology at Changins, Switzerland.
Jamie has recently been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, ABC7 News, 7x7, POPSUGAR, Mother Jones, Edible San Francisco, Munchies, KQED Bay Area Bites, Clever Root, and MSN Lifestyle.
"Having spent ten years in the wine industry, I've had the opportunity to host and plan a variety of events throughout my career. From planning 300+ person gatherings for the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, to hosting 50+ consumer events for JAX Vineyards, to organizing wine dinners for high-end international brands such as Ornellaia and Frescobaldi, my attention to detail and drive for excellence has dramatically impacted the experiences that I currently host for The Herb Somm. Hospitality is always a key focus. From the minute a guest arrives, to the moment they leave, it is my goal for each attendee to feel like a VIP. Hosting a successful event also means a lot of planning and organization. I owe this skillset to the many years that I worked in the wine industry and the wonderful people who taught me how to host incredible events along the way."
"I am a firm believer that cannabis, wine, and food belong together. Not only does cannabis enhance the dining experience, but it also opens the door to many new and exciting aroma, flavor, and ingredient pairings. From a culinary and hospitality perspective, I think there are a lot of opportunities for collaboration between the two industries. We need to continue to educate lawmakers, so they can see that there is a way to safely and responsibly use both in a gourmet setting. I am looking forward to the day that we finally see a cannabis-infused restaurant with an award-winning wine list!"
"There are many parallels that exist between wine and cannabis. From an agricultural standpoint, a few of my favorite similarities include terroir, growing regions, aromas, and flavors. Like a grapevine, cannabis is a plant that is climate and soil-driven. While the concept of terroir has been romanticized in the wine industry for years, the same principles apply to cannabis. To a cannabis grower, terroir is more than just weather and soil. As a farmer, you are a part of the terroir, and every growing method you use plays a critical role in the plant’s well being. The same stands true for winemakers and viticulturists. There is so much passion in both industries."
With more than 12 years of experience, Liz Gehl’s insider knowledge spans the alcohol beverage, cannabis and consumer packaged goods industries as an executive recruiter, in-house recruitment leader, and consumer. Her executive recruitment experience ranges from privately held firms to navigating through extensive mergers and acquisitions in a highly matrixed global organization. Since 1998, she has been passionate about the medicinal benefits of cannabis. As a human resources/talent acquisition professional it created an interesting scenario; she loved what she did, but did not enjoy rescinding job offers based on medicinal cannabis usage. As the Founder of Gehl Search Partners she is thrilled to be able to combine her three passions - Recruiting, the Wine/Beer/Spirits industry, and the Cannabis industry. Her recruitment firm, Gehl Search Partners, provides professional, high caliber, mid-level to C-level talent to organizations throughout the US.
Erin Gore is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Garden Society, a cannabis confection company started in early 2016. Originally from Wisconsin, Erin made Sonoma County her home in 2011.
After completing her degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006, Erin began a decade-long career with Henkel, where she managed a global adhesive business valued at nearly $100 million. Her time at Henkel provided a solid foundation in leadership, development, and achieving exceptional financial results.
In 2016, Erin left her corporate career to run Gore Family Vineyards, a boutique winery nestled in Healdsburg, Sonoma County. In addition to producing wine, Erin and her husband Tom have expanded the estate’s products to include olive oil, honey and more than 70 varieties of fruits and vegetables that are sold to restaurants and locals in the community.
Erin’s most-recent enterprise, Garden Society, developed out of her own need to explore non-traditional ways of managing the pain and stress of multiple hip surgeries. She quickly realized the holistic benefits of cannabis as a means of providing a better quality of life without prescription drugs, and in doing so found an opportunity to fill a void in the market with low dose edibles that highlight the renowned food culture of Sonoma County. In 2016, after much of her own research and experimentation, Erin joined with prominent Chef, Kolin Vazzoler, with the goal of creating artisanal confections made with low doses of cannabis that would enrich and help balance women’s lives.
Erin was awarded a Top Business of the Year honor in 2016 and was also given the Most Disruptive Innovation Award in 2014. Currently, she serves on the Board of the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County as well as the Healdsburg District Hospital Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance and belongs to the Circular Board, The Collaborative Accelerator for Women Entrepreneurs.
Pamela Hadfield is a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of HelloMD, the largest online community of health and wellness cannabis consumers. After treating her debilitating migraines with cannabis successfully, Pamela launched HelloMD, initially as a telehealth service designed to connect medical cannabis patients with doctors from the privacy of their own homes. After finding immediate success in the market, HelloMD expanded to include community, educational content as well as product sales. As a leading female executive and spokesperson for one the fastest growing industries in the world, Pamela has been featured in publications including Forbes, The New York Times, Elle, Rolling Stone, ADR, Cannabis Now, Harper’s Bazaar, LA Weekly, Marie Claire, and TechCrunch.
"One of the most surprising things is how quickly cannabis has become more mainstream in the United States and especially on the western half of the states. Although cannabis has been medically legal for the past 20 years in California, there has still been a lot of stigma attached to both working in the industry as well as individual consumption. When my co-founder and I started HelloMD 4 years ago, it still felt as though many people and businesses were more comfortable operating in the shadows.
Today, as cannabis legalization sweeps both the nation and around the globe, people’s minds are becoming more open to the medical as well as health and wellness applications of cannabis. With the changing nature of regulations and individual state’s embracing cannabis as a legitimate business, people are coming out of the “cannabis closet” and are more willing to talk about their personal experiences. This has also resulted in more new-to-cannabis consumers entering the market, addressing a wide range of health issues without the same fear and stigma that was present even just a few years ago."
"My hope would be that both industries see that they might ultimately complement one another and see that there is tremendous value in collaborative efforts. Coming from the cannabis industry, which is most often an uphill battle to survive and thrive, I have seen how competitors within the cannabis space have successfully worked together to influence legislation and avoid unnecessary potholes (pun intended) along the way.
Examples of how the wine and cannabis industry might work together collaboratively would be to increase overall tourism, sway public opinion regarding environmentally sound land use and educate the general public regarding the benefits of their existence. This would include combatting NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) together as a joint effort so that both industries may thrive."
"In regard to the wine industry, there is concern that cannabis will automatically take a big bite out of wine industry profits. My belief is that people who enjoy wine, continue to do so even when they may enjoy consuming cannabis. A wine lover will most likely continue to be a wine lover. I do not believe this necessarily translates with hard alcohol however.
The other ever-present misconception I find is that with adult use now legal in California, people often believe the vast majority of people consuming cannabis are heavy recreational consumers. In reality, the largest segment is those that consumer occasionally or for health and wellness purposes, for issues such as anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia. The stereotype of the “stoner” cannabis consumer, the heavy recreationally consumer, represents only around 10% of the total market."
Marc Hauser is a Partner with Gaw Van Male, LLP, the premier business and estate planning firm in Napa, spearheading the firm’s cannabis transactions practice. Although new to the Bay Area, Marc has over twenty years of experience in general business and real estate law, spending the bulk of his career as personal deal counsel for Sam Zell, a Forbes-listed billionaire and active investor in Chicago. As in-house counsel, Marc advised his colleagues on billions of dollars of complex transactions across industries and asset classes. Working alongside investment, tax, and accounting professionals, Marc developed a practical, business-oriented approach to advising his colleagues on sophisticated deal structures and risk tolerance. He now brings that same level of expertise to his wine and cannabis clients at GVM, striving to be tirelessly responsive to his clients’ needs and concerns.
Marc is a member of the Napa Valley Cannabis Association, the California and Illinois state bars, the National Cannabis Bar Association, and the Napa Valley Bar Association. Marc graduated cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law, where he was an editor of the Law Review, and with honors in history from Northwestern University.
"Money. Capital is pouring into the cannabis industry from investors because it’s new, it’s sexy, and it’s (relatively) cheap. Valuations in the wine industry are so high that only giant players with a low cost of capital, or people who don’t care about returns, are willing to invest. On the other hand, cannabis has private equity money pouring in and capital markets in the US are starting to pay attention (Canada is well ahead of the US on that front), because cannabis offers the risk/return profile necessary for institutional capital that the wine industry can’t really offer at current valuations."
"Wine is a contemplative pastime. Wine is a reason to come together. Wine is a sort of philosophy. Certainly, the wine industry markets it that way, and for good reason. There’s no reason the cannabis industry can’t capitalize on its own elusive qualities as a way to define the product.
Also, wine has an intangible quality as an asset class, something that makes it attractive and sexy to investors. High net worth individuals and private equity love to invest in wineries for the sake of owning a winery, even if the pricing doesn’t project decent returns. Cannabis offers that same quality for investors and their capital, with the return potential to boot."
"Opportunity is the right word for it. Rather than burying their heads in the sand, or worse, fighting it like the record companies did with online music, the wine industry has the chance to embrace the legalization of cannabis and see it as an opportunity to further connect with its loyal customers and grow its own market.
The in-person experience is a natural fit for wine and cannabis to collaborate and cross-market. As DTC and wine tourism moves further towards providing an experience, not just pouring wine, cannabis is a way for wineries to enhance that experience. Instead of a cheese board at a sit-down tasting, why not an edible with an invitation to join the cannabis producers club?
One of a winery’s most valuable assets is the wine club mailing list. It’s also an asset that can be leveraged. Wine clubs thrive on hospitality and loyalty, and the connection to the winemaker, so the winery could offer winery-branded cannabis to its list, curated by the winemaker, or pair products with a special wine club shipment. Another way to bring the member back to their experience when they visited the winery on vacation."
Bill Kerr is a strategic design consultant and design entrepreneur with an emphasis on investments in the wine, beauty and cannabis categories.
With over 15 years of experience working with brands of all sizes, from startups to the Fortune 500, Bill’s passion is helping clients reach their customers in new and engaging ways. He led creative teams at agencies such as Primo Angeli: Fitch and CB’a Brand Engine, but has been independent for the past 7 years, working with his team under the Vertical moniker in downtown Santa Rosa to bring world-class brand innovation to both startups and established companies looking to effectively target key markets through strategic thinking and design.
Bill has a unique perspective on the parallels between the strategic positioning of cannabis and wine brands, as he both consults and has investments within each space. Additionally, he is working with his team to launch a sustainable child-resistant packaging solution that is aiming to set new standards for sustainability, aesthetics and cost.
Bill’s past clients include: HP, Motorola, Nestle, Purina, Bel Brands, Nyko, Avery Dennison, Otis Spunkmeyer, Freybe, Infusion Brands, Plum Organics, Mommy’s Bliss, Discovery Foods, CVS, Nuance by Salma Hayek, GO SMiLE, Clorox, Duraflame, Levi’s, Pizza Hut, GlaxoSmithKline, Lynmar Estate, Rally Point Wines, Ammunition Wines, Cline Family Cellars, Folio Fine Wine Partners, Terra de Promissio, Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery, Quivira, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Rally Point Wines, BioRepublic Skincare, Lucky Rock Wine Co., Price Family Vineyards, Barrett Farms, Chemistry, and Midnight Farms.
Allison Fraser Kosta is the Chief Operating Officer of TSO Sonoma, a luxury lifestyle and cannabis brand with a focus on health and wellness, as well as the CEO of SAKA, an infused non-alcoholic luxury wine company launching this fall.
Allison is an entrepreneur with a deep roots in the wine industry, as an accomplished owner of Kosta Browne Winery and Co-founder of her own boutique wine brand AldenAlli.
As an experienced owner in the wine industry and accomplished event planner, Allison has more than 25 years of refined, reputable experience operating within the San Francisco Bay Area food and wine industries. She has mastered many areas within the hospitality and viticulture spaces. Taking culmination her experiences and translating that wine country lifestyle into the cannabis space by producing high end events with an emphasis on the best that Sonoma County has to offer; food, wine and now cannabis.
Through her work with TSO Sonoma, Allison co-founded the TSO Elevated Events series, which are curated events, experiences and environments with a strong emphasis on education and overall wellness . Taking her love of good food and wine, organic farming, event planning and inherent passion for all things health and wellness she brings these things together through a sensory experience and pairings not to soon be forgotten.
Encompassing a passion for all things wellness, Allison has devoted the last two decades to servicing this industry as a health coach and massage therapist to further enhance education and application in a developed understanding of these practices.
Her idea to promote a healthy lifestyle starts with her and expands through all the work she accomplishes. Allison was born and raised in Northern California, has been a resident of Sonoma County for the last 15 years, and is the proud parent of three children.
Laura Lasseter's roots have existed in Southern Humboldt since the late 70's on her family land in Whitethorn.A graduate of San Francisco State University, Laura jumped in to the corporate world right out of college. The corporate world lead Laura to the great state of Texas. Building her career in Texas and raising her two daughters all the while still maintaining her family land in Southern Humboldt.
Laura's land is one of the first participants of Southern Humboldt' s local non profit, Sanctuary Forest Water Forbearance/Restoration Programs on the Mattole River watershed.
Full time back in Humboldt County, presently she is the Director of Operations and Founding Board member of the Southern Humboldt Business and Visitors Bureau-The SHBVB. The SHBVB is helping lead the path of tourism marketing, economic and destination development for Southern Humboldt. In addition, she serves as the marketing representative for the Southern Humboldt Lodging Alliance.
Laura is on the Eureka, Humboldt County Visitors Bureau Board Of Directors, a current Board Member of The Humboldt County Cannabis Chamber of Commerce and the Garberville Rotary Club Board of Directors, President Elect.
Prior to joining BDS Analytics and the wild world of cannabis data, Jessica Lukas spent ~10 years working with top global CPG and Beverage Alcohol companies at Nielsen Innovation (BASES) and at Dr Pepper Snapple Group. After taking a short break to develop and launch an app with a business partner, Jessica returned to data analytics—but this time for weed. BDS Analytics is now her home, and she leads client engagement. BDS Analytics is headquartered in Boulder, CO and is the leader in data, market research, analytics, and consumer insights for the cannabis industry. She helps clients (inside and outside the industry) understand the evolution of the cannabis market and Consumer in order to assess the opportunity and/or threat and drive strategic decisions. AND given her many years spent working within Beverage Alcohol, the interaction, overlap, substitutability, pairing of Cannabis + Alcohol is a particular focus and passion.
Devika Maskey is Founder and CEO of luxury cannabis brand TSO Sonoma, and President of Ellipsis Wine Company, a boutique winery. She attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and graduated with a degree in Wine and Viticulture with a concentration in wine business development. Upon surveying the existing cannabis industry, she realized there was a huge opportunity to address functioning professionals like herself with premium cannabis products that could be beneficial to their health conscious lifestyle. In particular the female demographic was being neglected in what up until now has been a very male dominated industry.
With 12 years experience designing events and tastings in the premium wine business, Devika shifted her focus to create similar regulated, quality experiences in the emerging cannabis tourism industry, which will become a staple in the california cannabis infrastructure. With Sonoma County being the hub for an authentic gold standard in food, wine, and cannabis, it only seemed natural to create a brand that reflects just that.
Devika’s experience within the regulated alcohol industry, specifically wine and its viticulture experience and practices, is lending itself to her new role in cannabis. Devika also recently co-founded the women’s network, Industry Power Women, to provide resources to female entrepreneurs in an effort to guarantee success.
Claudio Miranda is a seasoned entrepreneur and C-level executive with 20 years of experience in marketing, consumer branding, multi-channel retailing, and sustainable enterprise. He was formerly the co-founder and CMO of two industry-leading natural product brands – Organic Bouquet and Organic Style – and later became a marketing consultant for the cannabis, gourmet foods and wine industries. He currently oversees the Guild family of cannabis brands, which includes a vertically-integrated dispensary in San Jose; a 3-acre cannabis nursery in Monterey County; and an award-winning concentrates brand that specializes in high potency, terpene-rich extracts. Claudio is a graduate of UC Berkeley; has served as Professor of Marketing at the Dominican University Green MBA Program; and currently serves as a startup advisor at Gateway—California’s first venture-backed cannabis incubator.
Alicia founded HerbaBuena in 2015 to help define a new standard for the cannabis industry, and a trusted product source for consumers looking for the same purity, quality and sophistication in their cannabis products as they’ve come to expect in their organic food and fine wine. HerbaBuena is a culmination of all that’s come before including her upbringing on an organic farm, her master’s degree in Environmental Science, and a 15-year career in Napa Valley’s wine industry, during which time she consulted with dozens of ultra-premium wine brands and a handful of 100-point winemakers.
"Offering a luxury consumer experience where luxury is defined by health, well being and feeling good."
"I think the wineries and the supporting businesses will benefit greatly if they embrace cannabis as part of their offerings."
"The wine industry provides unparalleled consumer experience and hospitality; we are integrating these philosophies and practices into our cannabis experience."
"I used to think so, but cannabis is a beast all it’s own."
"TImmersive experiences with more destination locations that provide the same experience as wineries."
Dr. Bill Silver is the CEO of CannaCraft Inc., California’s largest producer of premium cannabis brands including Absolute Xtracts, Care by Design, & Satori Chocolates. Founded by lifetime cultivators and industry experts, CannaCraft is a vertically integrated, community oriented company. CannaCraft has been at the forefront of industry innovation and advancement, setting the gold-standard for legal and responsible cannabis businesses.
Prior to taking the helm at CannaCraft, Dr. Silver was the Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University, where he helped SSU’s Wine Business Institute, become the premier global center for wine business education and research. He is the co-author of the book, Way of Zing – A Guide to Aligning Work and Life, written with Mark Gregory Nelson. The Way of Zing is a story about living a life of purpose and relevance, where what the world needs from you is in congruence with who you are.
Silver holds a B.A. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Washington. He is an avid martial artist, an enthusiastic explorer of wineries, and a determined trail runner.
Eric Sklar is an entrepreneur, Napa Valley vineyard owner and public official. He and his family have been growing grapes in Napa Valley for 40 years and he has recently planted his first licensed cannabis garden.
Eric is CEO of Napa Valley Fume, LLC, a cannabis management/branding company based in St. Helena, CA. He is also the co-founder of the Napa Valley Cannabis Association. He is currently a member of the Policy Committee of the California Growers Association and Board Member of Bay Ecotarium (Bay.Org).
Eric was appointed to the California Fish and Game Commission in June of 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown and confirmed by the Senate in 2016. He was elected President in 2016 and was re-appointed by Governor Brown to a full six-year term in January 2017.
In 2005, Eric founded Alpha Omega Winery in Rutherford, California and was Managing Partner from 2005-2013. From 2003-2010 Eric served on the St. Helena City Council – the last two years as Vice-Mayor. In 2010 He was elected to the Board of the Napa Valley Vintners where he served as Treasurer and Vice-Chair, and from 2009-2011 he served as chair of the Napa Valley Vintners’ Community and Industry Issues Committee.
Eric was Chairman and CEO of Burrito Brothers, Inc, a restaurant chain he founded in 1989 based in Washington, DC and sold in 1999. He was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Business where he taught courses in entrepreneurship, business strategy and marketing.
Starting his professional career in 1984 as the Assistant Press Secretary to Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, Eric held several political positions. Those include Press Advance for Dukakis/Bentsen in 1988; Director and Founder of the American Small Business Alliance; and Director and Secretary of The Coalition to Defend Working Families.
Eric received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley in 1984, a Diploma in Business Studies at the London School of Economics in 1986, and a Master of Business Administration at Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 1997.
He is a retired volunteer for the St. Helena Fire Department. He has also served on the boards of various organizations including the Napa Valley Transportation Agency, Business for Social Responsibility, the Metropolitan DC Restaurant Association, Center for Policy Alternatives, Arca Foundation and many others.
Eric is a sailor, scuba diver and loves backpacking the trails of California. He and his wife Erica live in St. Helena, CA and have two adult daughters.
Rebecca Stamey-White is a legal advocate, advisor and strategist focusing her practice on the laws related to the sale, distribution and marketing of alcoholic beverages and medical cannabis. She is a partner with Hinman & Carmichael LLP, a nationally-recognized boutique law firm representing the alcoholic beverage, hospitality and medical cannabis industries and their service providers. Rebecca provides licensing, distribution, compliance and trade practice business advice for regulated industries and defends clients in state agency protest and accusation hearings and federal alcohol investigations. She has a special interest in crafting legally-compliant advertising, social media, promotions and events and advising unlicensed third party providers serving regulated industries.
Rebecca is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, law schools and continuing legal education programs on the latest legal issues in the alcoholic beverage and cannabis industries. She is an active member of many of the alcohol beverage industry organizations, including the Wine Institute, the Rhone Rangers, the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, the California Music & Culture Association, the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators and the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). In the cannabis space, Rebecca is an active member of Women Grow, a professional network of female cannabis entrepreneurs, and the National Cannabis Bar Association. During ski season, she volunteers as a national ski patroller at Northstar California Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe.
Prior to Hinman & Carmichael, Rebecca was an associate in the San Francisco litigation group of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she worked on post-Granholm litigation involving constitutional challenges to state alcohol regulatory statutes and provided regulatory advice to California wine industry businesses. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History & International Studies from Northwestern University and her juris doctor from Northwestern University School of Law.
Jessica Strange never met a microphone she didn’t like. This long time Sonoma County resident has hosted numerous events as an Emcee including Santa Rosa’s Handcar Regatta, Petaluma’s Rivertown Revival, and various private events that you simply had to see for yourself.
With a strong background in operations management, Jessica cut her teeth in Portland, Oregon’s cannabis industry, specifically retail and distribution management, and honed her experience in compliance serving Oregon, Colorado and Nevada. She is thrilled to bring her knowledge back home and prove to her high school teachers that yes, what they caught her doing 20 plus years ago is finally paying off.
Jim Sweeney has extensive experience driving sales success in the Wines & Spirits industry through both the three-tier distribution as well as Direct-to-Consumer. He has successfully managed the National Sales teams for several beverage alcohol industry leaders including Constellation, Huneeus Vintners, Vintage Wine Estates, was the General Sales Manager for two distributors in Texas, and brings both production and direct-to-consumer experience as the General Manager for Quixote Winery in Napa Valley. Jim brings an in-depth understanding of pricing and programming to deliver successful distribution and sales through three-tier distribution structures.
Currently as the Sales & Marketing Director for Humboldt Distillery in Humboldt California, Jim is helping to build a craft spirit from the ‘the heart’ of likely the largest cannabis growing area in the Country. Additionally, Humboldt Distillery produces and distributes ‘Humboldt’s Finest’, a cannabis-infused vodka. Jim now uses his extensive sales & marketing experience, is building a brand distilled and bottled in Humboldt County with a product that is cannabis-infused.
Jim is a graduate of the University of Texas, holds a MBA from National University, and resides in St. Helena, California with his wife.
Karli began her career in the wine industry at a boutique PR agency in Napa, learning the ropes of pitching and building media relationships while also expanding her wine education. Building her repertoire in food and wine, both professionally and personally, she quickly began exploring other aspects brand and event marketing in those fields. As her career progressed she moved to Constellation Brands, the world’s leading wine company, where she learned firsthand the importance of partnerships and cross-brand collaboration to become a top-tier marketer. Through thoughtful storytelling, pitching and partnerships, Karli landed media coverage for brands on the Today Show, and in national publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator and Food & Wine magazine.
During her time at Constellation, Karli helped launch a wine brand that, at the time, she didn’t know would eventually shift her career from wine to cannabis – which is where her Garden Society story begins. A former wine industry peer, Erin Gore founded Garden Society, a cannabis company focused on women’s wellness, in 2016 and shortly thereafter asked Karli to join the team to lead their marketing and communication efforts. Together and with their third partner, Matthew Bartlett, they have quickly built a well-recognized luxury cannabis brand that has garnered the interest of the Today Show, CNBC, Marie Claire, Los Angeles Times, Forbes and many more.
As she loved telling the story of wine - from vine to glass – she is even more so passionate and personally touched in telling the Garden Society story, from seed to delectable confection. As a working mom and wife to a cancer survivor, she knows the positive wellness impact low-dose edible cannabis can have on the mind, body and soul.