Film director Francis Ford Coppola jumps into cannabis industry

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Francis Ford Coppola is adding cannabis to his wine and hospitality empire.

The famed film director has inked a licensing deal with the Humboldt Brothers, a Garberville business that owns Humboldt County marijuana farms, to produce a limited edition of three different cannabis flower strains.

The Grower’s Series by Francis Ford Coppola will be available at select licensed pot dispensaries in California and through Chill, a Bay Area marijuana-delivery service.

The deal was made through a separate business entity, the Sana Co., which Coppola established earlier this year, rather than the Family Coppola, the Geyserville-based business that comprises his wine brands.

Still, the announcement represents another significant milepost as the wine industry explores whether the emerging marijuana sector is a friend or foe.

“Wine and cannabis are two ancient and bounteous gifts of Mother Nature, linked by great care, terroir and temperateness. Expertise making one applies to the other,” Coppola said Thursday in a prepared statement. “As with growing grapes, location matters, and the Grower’s Series reflects California agricultural expertise creating a true blend of art and science.”

Coppola sees an opportunity to help leverage his other brands in the new endeavor, as Sana would “give life to a progressive vision for pioneering the highest-quality, sun-grown cannabis products through sustainable farming,” the company said.

Other companies in the wine and beer sector have ventured into cannabis as they look toward a potential growth market in North America. Constellation Brands Inc., owner of the iconic Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa and other local wineries, Thursday closed a deal to buy 37 percent of a Canadian cannabis company. Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma was the first well-known brand to the market earlier this year, with a cannabis drink made in conjunction with Santa Rosa’s CannaCraft. That drink is sold only in California-licensed cannabis dispensaries.

Johnny Deim, Humboldt Brothers founder and chief executive officer, said his small company’s deal with Coppola was a “landmark on how the times are changing.” He also has had talks with other well-known brands and musicians, but said he was comfortable making Coppola his first deal, given the film director’s passion for the product.

The Coppola cannabis unveiling will include a few events with the Herb Somm, a lifestyle brand that focuses on the gourmet side of the marijuana sector. Each 3-gram package will feature three different cannabis strains grown in different microclimates around Humboldt County, taking a page from the wine industry that features various grapes from different appellations in its product selections. Each package is expected to sell for $99 and come with rolling paper and a pipe.

Coppola came to Deim’s team about a year ago with the idea. Humboldt Brothers provided marijuana from 15 to 20 different strains that went through a panel of people for testing before selecting the top three strains, which were approved by Coppola, said Kathleen Murphy, innovation director for Sana.

“We are really targeting the cannabis curious,” Murphy said. “We are a name you can trust. We are going to help you in that journey.”

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or [email protected]. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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