I checked two bags for my Delta flight from New York to NorCal bound for Hall of Flowers. When attending weed events across the coast, bring two bags. Bring two, but only load one up with your clothes and kit for the week. This is key. What about the other? Leave that bag empty so you have plenty of room for the return trip.
Believe me; this is a pro tip. Extra suitcase space comes in clutch on your return when it's time to bring your bounty back home. Called the "Haul of Flowers" by many, if you hit the show correctly, you will come home with weeks worth of bud, hash, edibles, and more to taste, try, and evaluate after the chaos of the two-day event subsides.
An entire extra roller bag might seem like overkill to some, but not to me, and not when we are talking about attending the biggest bud-centric B2B show bar none, AKA HOF homecoming return to Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.
Hall of Flowers Pre-Game.
Packing light and prepping to stock up is necessary now more than ever. This time, the trade show's homecoming was poised to be an epic return to the production's roots in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Fairgrounds bound.
Hall of Flowers Santa Rosa is the OG show. It's where this all began four years ago, and Santa Rosa is also their biggest show. Exhibitors are distributed throughout the Sonoma County Fairgrounds' sprawl. HOF in Santa Rosa features new cannabis creations and product drops alongside showings of emerging tech, speakers, and unique activations, as well as several consumption lounges where we can interact with various brand products on-site.
HOF Comes Home.
Despite what you may have heard through the grapevine, the HOF in Santa Rosa was the largest show to date as far as attendees, exhibitors, media, brand, and buyer presence are concerned.
I always describe cannabis industry events as if my Instagram feed is coming to life. I mean this in the best possible way. It can be tough to get much work done when surrounded by many of your favorite people in one place. Being East Coast based, the anticipation for these events is often magnified for me.
With such a short time to take it all in and hang out with my West Coast counterparts, these events always feel like a race no matter what, and I have come to learn you need to lean into the chaos in this industry.
My choices for standout cannabis products seen at this show should have the added disclaimer that I am sure I did not see everything (despite my best effort). I wish there was more time, so please, if I missed one of your favorites, definitely let me know @jetworknyc. Without further ado, let’s get right into the fire I saw over these two days at the Fairgrounds.
HOF DAY 1: The Definition of Dank.
Some of the friendliest group of farmers were the guys at OAKFRUITLAND. If you don’t already know about them, it is high time you were introduced. OAKFRUITLAND is a minority-owned cannabis company based in Oakland, CA. OAKFRUITLAND firmly believes that life is too short to smoke boof, and I couldn't agree more.
This team put their money where their mouth is and came correct for Hall Of Flowers’ Santa Rosa show. First, big props for having giant jars of their best buds on full display for everyone too ogle and inspect. A full-on throwback to the glory days of Cali ganja and much appreciated by me in particular. Just tired of not seeing weed at weed events.
The team served us up in a classic deli-style setup that not only did us all a solid, supplying flavors on flavors to the consumer, but took it one step further. In my opinion, the old ways are superior regarding the experience of choosing your weed. The ability to see and smell the bud up close is always preferred.
From a pure smoke perspective, the sweet and potent Oak-Lato, Gas-Pack, V-Power, Day Pack, Moon Coin all smack something special, every strain possesses a distinct nose and body. OAKFRUITLAND flavors offer more than I ever imagined; maybe I’m late to the game, but if you haven’t had it, wake up your game and have a hit.
Cultivating Aeroponically is intriguing; I am a big fan of the medium, which adds some needed spice to the hydroponic space. 420 Kingdom hit me with the Watermelon Mimosa and I was not only surprised to find a pleasant and potent smoke, but I also say 420 Kingdom a sleeper hit from HOF. I am not embarrassed that the Gold Top square jars and giant Versace-style Lion Heads at their booth first drew me in and caught my eye, not the bud per se. But that shows how looks can be deceiving, because upon closer inspection (and consumption) it turns out their flower is fire, and the terps maintained a tart, crispy taste that smacked memorably upon smoke.
MOON VALLEY HASH CO.
A small batch Northern California micro business, Moon Valley grows some fine flowers for sure, in living soil nonetheless, but what stands out to me the most are their single source ice water extracts (their live rosin is pretty fire as well).
Moon Valley’s concentrates were recognized by our peers at the Emerald Cup Awards, and took home 8th place in the solventless rosin category with their cold cured strawberry banana. Unsurprisingly, these were some of the best hash offerings at Hall of Flowers this year. Their single source cold cure rosin is so fire, I am pretty sure it will make my list for life.
Rosin Continues to Rise.
You know the deal. It's Croptober which means one thing only: it's time to make ROSIN. The sheer quantity of ridiculously high quality rosin in Santa Rosa during HOF means I definitely missed some. That said, I have to give a shout out to the most superior, stand-out solventless that I saw.
That said, some of the most MAJOR top-of-the-line terps, worthy of the most acclaim, came from many of the usual suspects who consistently knock it out of the park. Most notable in my take was on tap via Terp Mansion, Alien Labs x Kalya Collab, Real Deal Resin, Feeling Frosty, and some very special Original Z x West Coast Alchemy, as well as Wooksauce Winery were among some of the most legendary loud.
SONOMA HILLS FARM
Next to catch my eye (and nose) as a notable list-worthy standout, the Durban Biscotti from Sonoma Hills Farm smacked and looked super terpy. I came to find out she is testing at 4% terps. Question asked and answered.
Durban is one of the most recognizable terpene profiles in Cannabis, and it is often used as a training tool for building the palate because of its unique olfactory properties.
The sharpness of the Durban comes through first as the Biscotti smooths out the smoke like a layer cake. "This is the second time I grew this, but the first time I grew it right," Vice President of Cannabis Cultivation and Production Aaron Keefer said about this strain.
Sonoma Hills Farm does it right, growing their ganja under strict Sun and Earth certification guidelines and practices. Regenerative techniques plus really heady genetics came together to deliver this Durban Biscotti nugget to me, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I know it’s called Hall Of Flowers, but that has become a misnomer in this industry of innovators and badass brands who are actively and in real time shaping the space by putting their best foot forward with infused foods. The burgeoning brands, plus those active before the Prop. 215 days, are helping push the bounds of the consumer cannabis experience, and it is about time for more love for the edible.
I am always excited to see the conversations around edibles evolve in the industry as a whole, because this translates into more options for consumers to use the plant in their own particular way that best serves their own mind and body.
Comfortable in my admission that coming from the East Coast, I am still discovering dope brands and legacy operators on tap in Cali. I love being able to meet players that are top-of-their-craft in California, but may be totally new to residents of the remaining 49 states.
REAL DEAL RESIN
One brand that fits the above mentioned bill perfectly and deserves some serious credit for bringing the absolute heat is Real Deal Resin. Consumers themselves, these guys know what the people want. Period. A combo of unrelenting quality control and super high standards means that if RDR will put their mark on it, it is the best.
I can't take credit for this find either; that goes to my friends Jenn and Andres (aka the epic brand owners and humans behind @SUPERCHILLAF). Before I flew west for the show, these two clued me in, and told me to connect with their friend Dustin at Hall Of Flowers. So you know I did.
Visually I was stunned by their setup for this show. After spending time with the team and getting to know their product, I am confident that RDR is producing some of the best solventless SKUS you can find on any shelf, regardless of the state.
All that said, I was probably most excited about their foray into infused foods. The solventless edibles space is skyrocketing as craft confections and other consumables made with hash rosin have become super hot commodities, and in my humble opinion, rightfully so.
A brand built for the connoisseur, the release of their Hash Rosin-infused Honey Roasted Chipotle Peanuts called "Hasher Snacks" was for sure one of my favorite non-flower drops at Hall of Flowers. Full stop.
MYSTERY BAKING CO.
On the exhibition floor, I was drawn to the Mystery Baking booth like a vortex all by myself. As a daily consumer of cannabis infused foods, I have a sixth sense for the ones that smack. But these guys were already on my radar as well via my dear friend Queen B of Your Highness LA (a legacy LA-based flower brand known for their exotic flavors that have gained cult status for being far from easy to find in the regular spots).
Queen B told me about her homie since middle school called Scooby (the aptly chosen moniker of Mystery Baking brand creator) and gave me the skinny on how he is serving up truly superb infused SKUS. Say less, so I set out to see what Mystery Baking Co is all about.
When I arrived in the C Pavillion, Mystery Baking’s booth was indeed a total vibe, and I didn’t even get to meet Scooby one-on-one amid the madhouse packed to the brim with people who couldn’t get enough of these edible sauces and spreads.
I did however get to see a showing (and have a taste) of the infused foods this team had on tap for the community. Trust me when I say Mystery Baking Co. has something hella special. Period. I am NOT blowing smoke.
I implore everyone to go get your hands on the Spreadable edibles, a SKU (and arguably, an entire sector) which was born with the Mystery Baking Boys.
The success of their recipes and truly amazing origin story let them move on to producing medicated honey, peanut butter, hazelnut spreads, and much more. Now in 2022, they are really making moves and making a mark in the consumables space that is truly something we should all be cheering on.
Moving through the show, I saw the homie, Jason, from last year's Harvest Ball. Jason Gellman is a legacy grower in Humboldt and owner of Ridgeline Farms. I was psyched to see Jason, as the night before, a close homie and a notable Norcal-born photographer had mentioned to me that Ridgeline's Lantz was the "best bud grown on the hill this year." Quite the statement, so I had to see for myself.
I told Gellman this, and he gave me a head stash to smoke. Ridgeline LANTZ is a Green Lantern x Ridgeline Runtz cross that does not disappoint. It is for sure something I hope becomes a cultivar seen regularly on California shelves.
WOOD WIDE HIGHCRAFT
If you have had the privilege of meeting Corbin Larson, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Wood Wide, you already know that he and his team are top-notch people through and through. I got my hands on their strain Pleazure (Dweebz x Zhit), which is a pheno hunt genetic they are just now running and dropping next month on the rec market. Currently being packaged at Mercy Wellness in Santa Rosa, Pleazure should be ready for sale by early November just in time for the holidays.
My bro gave me the scoop that they had just sent 20 pounds of this banger to be packaged, releasing it with small-batch availability consistently in each coming month. Wood Wide is a small 72-lighter running LED and currently produces about 100-120 pounds a month of very select, curated, small craft batch drops of some of the finest flowers I have ever seen.
Every flavor in their lineup right now is an absolute terp-filled treat. For Hall of Flowers, these guys came with their best foot forward of course, but also ready to rock with a crazy line up of Mendo Crumble (Emerald Cup winner for highest terpenes), Tropical Gelato, Biscotti, Funky Charms, LA Pop Rockz and now Dutch Treat (crazy terps, she the real deal), Cowgirl Cookies, and Pleazure (my personal favorite) all on deck and ready for store shelves. Without a doubt you can expect big things for Wood Wide on the way.
HOF: DAY TWO
On Day 2, I had the privilege of roaming the halls with my friend Chris Lynch, Founder and Chief Executive Wizard of Compound Genetics. I was humbled by the opportunity to hit these booths with an all-star breeder by my side.
Chris's presence gave me a perspective (as it always does) on the offerings presented by the brands and breeders that I appreciated getting a glimpse into along with his guidance. Surrounding oneself with the best in the game and soaking up their knowledge like a sponge is still my favorite way to learn about weed.
As we walked, Chris and I received a warm welcome from Rachel and Clark, the owner/operator couple behind Clarkie's Cannabis. This duo has been growing indoor medical cannabis for 22 years in Humboldt County. Clarkie's is craft cannabis cultivated indoors under LED, powered by 100% renewable energy, and raised in beds of living soil. They do craft right; something about that indoor living soil hits different.
My first encounter with Clarkie's Cannabis was courtesy of a shop in South Humboldt years ago. Then it was the LA Pop Rocks (Zanimal squared x triangle kush). Today it is the Grape Gas (Grape Gas X Jet Fuel Gelato) and White Runtz (Gelato x Zkittlez).
Though he was happy to share, I suspect these two gifts were intended for my bro Chris to try, as he is the OG breeder of these two cultivars and countless other legendary strains revered by the cannabis culture.
The crew at Clarkie's laced us up big time, eager to have us try the flavors; a few of us kicked it and rolled up some of their finest at the closest consumption lounge. Dubbed the AVD/GoldDrop lounge, which had a vibe as an expansive open-air courtyard, they provided some release from the sun, which was definitely a solid call by lounge curators. After the session, I asked Chris for his take on the toke, to which he confirmed my feelings and told me that "Clarkie's grows some fire good gas." I would say that statement is a stamp of approval.
Decibel Gardens was one standout from the (much less crowded) show the day before. As their name implies, the bud they grow is the definition of loud.
Derek Teal at Decibel had shown profound love with the strain samples the day prior, and they were top-tier, so I knew hitting him up again with Chris Lynch couldn't hurt. All jokes aside, I was impressed enough with his work that I wanted to show Chris first-hand. Yes, his gear was loud AF, but I also admired Derek's showing at HOF because of his excitement and pride about the product he produces, plus his positive energy in the face of some dark days in the industry as of late.
Derek and Chris chopped it up while I stared at buds behind the glass at their booth and waited patiently for him to bust out his picks for us to try. Watermelon Punch, Screaming Apples, ROSWELL 47, and C-Note in tow, strains I knew smacked from my "research" the day before.
As we dapped up our new growmie Derek and continued on our walk, I couldn't shake the feeling that this present moment, our collective experience was the best possible example of what makes this culture, this community, and by extension, events like this so goddamn special.
Human connection and bonding over a plant just seems to happen on one of the most fundamental levels. Moments like these are needed to remind us why we do what we do and won't ever stop growing, and I was grateful for this refresher after a long and admittedly strenuous summer.
For more about Hall of Flowers, visit hallofflowers.com. Check out the Hall of Flowers experience at MJBizCon, coming to Las Vegas November 16-18, 2022.
Find Out More On Social
Featured image: The exhibition hall at Hall of Flowers Santa Rosa (C) Hall of Flowers