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Building a Hospitality Business in the New Cannabis Frontier

Jamie Evans discusses launching a cannabis-driven lifestyle brand, blog, and events company

Jamie Evans
Jamie Evans. Photo courtesy of The Herb Somm.

The legalization of marijuana in an ever-growing number of states has created a serious arms race for new cannabis businesses. While there’s been an avalanche of new products on the edibles and weed wine side of things, it’s the exploration of the effects of cannabis in enhancing the enjoyment of food and wine at the dinner table that Jamie Evans, the founder of The Herb Somm, is most enthused about. Through her blog and Thursday Infused (an events series in the Bay Area), Evans applies her decade of experience in wine industry public relations, marketing, and hospitality to the world of cannabis. A pioneer in her field, she brings wine and weed together through terpene tutorials, sensory aroma and flavor seminars, and high-end dinners that pair cannabis-infused food with wine. While others are tiptoeing from wine into cannabis, or worrying that weed will replace consumers’ nightly bottle of wine, Evans is fearlessly forging ahead to bring the two together. — Tina Caputo   



SevenFifty Daily: How would you describe your business?

Jamie Evans: The Herb Somm is a blog and lifestyle brand that serves as a gourmet guide to cannabis. My site features recipes, industry news, wine and cannabis pairings, and wellness tips. I’m also the founder of Thursday Infused, an event series created to showcase California’s talented cannabis chefs and give brands a platform to educate guests about their innovative products. I always like to incorporate wine at every event or educational session that I host. I do terpene education, which allows people to compare the terpenes (organic aroma and flavor compounds) that are found in wine and cannabis, as well as sensory aroma pairings, where people smell wine and cannabis side by side to learn how to smell and evaluate cannabis. I’ll work with chefs to create pairing menus for cannabis-infused dinners with wine.

Is there a particular issue that you’re trying to address?

It has always been my goal to help end the stigma that surrounds cannabis. In my view, it’s a very intellectual product that can benefit your life in so many ways. I also believe that cannabis is an important cooking ingredient. Through my event series, consumers get to experience cannabis cuisine at its finest, while learning how to eat infused foods safely and responsibly. Incorporating cannabis into settings that people are comfortable with—like educational seminars and fine-dining experiences—helps normalize cannabis, which, in the end, will help break the stigma.

Have you had any mentors or people in your field who inspired you?  

I am constantly inspired by all of the fantastic women who have found a space in the cannabis industry. It almost feels like a sisterhood, which has created such a dynamic industry to work in. Amanda Reiman of Flow Kana has put in an enormous amount of work toward protecting small growers. Rachel Burkons is also very inspiring—a few years back, she launched Altered Plates, a cannabis catering and events company, with her brother in Los Angeles. I’m also incredibly inspired by Chef Coreen Carroll of the Cannaisseur Series and Monica Lo of Sous Weed, because they have a true gift for cooking with cannabis and making the perfect infusions.

What has been the biggest challenge in your business?

The laws are continually changing, and it takes an enormous amount of time to stay on top of all the new regulations. I recently joined Crop to Kitchen, whose goal is to build a movement to legalize cannabis restaurants in California and position the Bay Area as the capital of cannabis cuisine. We’re working together to face new challenges and draft regulations for the culinary sector of cannabis.

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What has been your biggest achievement thus far?

Launching Thursday Infused is what brought my brand to life. It’s given me the opportunity to connect with the consumer, educating people about the things I’m most passionate about—cannabis, food, and wine.

What is your favorite thing to drink?

Wine! I adore Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as Sancerre and Burgundy. I always love a glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne.

Which three cannabis-related Instagram accounts do you follow most closely?

@SousWeed, @TsoSonoma, @PotdHuile

Read more about Jamie Evans: Infusing Wine Events with Cannabis.

Tina Caputo is a writer based in Northern California who covers wine, beer, food, and travel. She was formerly the editor in chief of Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, and her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Visit California, Sonoma magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications. She also produces the podcast Winemakers Drinking Beer.

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