The Emerald Cup returned this past weekend for its inaugural Harvest Ball kicking off the countdown for the award show’s move to Los Angeles in the spring.

Make no mistake about it, after two years the hype had returned to wine country. While the energy was a bit different given there was no build-up to a Sunday award show as with the cup’s previous in-person editions, it was still a coming together of a community that has had a hard two years.

As Emerald Cup founder Tim Blake noted to L.A. Weekly in our discussion on how taxes are impacting small farmers, the cup isn’t just a celebration. It’s also about creating space for the community to bear witness to what is happening together. At this moment, what they’re witnessing isn’t pretty. But it’s better to address it on stage as they did with a rally in support of these small farms as opposed to brushing what is happening to the community under the rug. Many expect it will be a brutal year as they continue to sit on tonnage with the market price crashing to all-time lows.

But once you moved past the most serious subject matters facing the cannabis community, there was still a chipper excitement in the air that could not be stopped by raindrops or overzealous Department of Cannabis Control enforcement personnel with trash bags. (Which we’ll get to in a separate less chipper article next week.)

One of the most perennial themes of the cup, apart from the competition, was people getting their hands on genetics for next year. This kind of event can’t be pushed back until April like the awards show so it served as the perfect ethos for a December event in the new cup format.

And the acceptance from the community was on clear display with many of the biggest lines of the day being for seeds and clones. Names like Compound Genetics were as mobbed as one might expect and even during the peak rainfall on Sunday the line at Seed Junky was packed with folks hoping to get their hands on their latest and greatest.

Some booths even featured $1,000 dollar clones that were moving like wildfire. Nevertheless, most of the fresh plant cuttings on hand were a lot more affordable and some of the most hype strains of the moment. One thing that surprised us was how fast Apples and Bananas has permeated into various nurseries. We were the first place to call it heat before it went on to win a variety of end-of-the-year awards. Now it’s everywhere. The seed drop of the new Apples and Bananas crosses was arguably one of the biggest events of the cup period.

But who had the heat?!

Royal Key

We saw a lot of dope flowers but the nicest indoor was Royal Key’s DMT pheno hunt selection that hasn’t made it out to the wider population yet. Royal Key hasn’t dropped anything in a while as they’re in the midst of refreshing their genetics catalog for more legendary flower and then more hash selections. When their M-Con #8 was on shelves, many argued it was the best weed in Los Angeles.

Alien Labs

Y2K was the star of the show for Alien Labs as they began to tease the wider release of their homage to the best purple weed of them all, Bay Area Grapes. They’ve been hunting down for nearly two years. It’s a smooth smoke with a bit of the grape notes we miss from the late 2000s. Alien Labs’ cup clothing drop was also insane and featured alien dissection infographic hoodies to top it all off.

The Healing of The Nations

THTN featured an amazing Ethiopian that was one of the most unique smokes of the weekend. We split the bag with Compton’s own Masonic Smoker and he felt like he was getting some haze notes in the flavor. They also had one of the nicer sun-grown OGs we saw over the weekend.


The Jelly Rancher was one of our favorite aromas of the weekend without a doubt. The layers of different kinds of sweetness within the aroma were top class and stood out in a sea of good flowers.

Yuba River Organics

Garlotti was arguably one of the hidden gems of the weekend. The blend of GMO and Biscotti terps jumped out the jar a lot harder than most. It was some of the loudest pot we looked at during the cup.

Ridgeline x Huckleberry Hill Farms

One of the booths really packing the heat was a collab between Ridgeline and Huckleberry Hill Farms. Ridgeline won the cup back to back before having to deal with a lot of smoke two years ago. We’re excited to see how they fare this year after the prime conditions in southern Humboldt County.

Vesuvio Garden

I’ve regularly called Vesuvio Gardens one of the most underrated farms in California since I first discovered them at Hall of Flowers a few years ago. This year their Bubblebath was another contender for someone the nicest mixed-light flower we saw at The Emerald Cup.

Sierra Nevada Cannabis Co.

When your flower is coveted material by some of the world’s best hash craftsmen, the expectations are high. Sierra Nevada Cannabis Co. completely lived up to the hype this year with a spread that included some rockstar Kush Mints.


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