A day removed from climbing to the cannabis mountaintop, we chatted with the winners of the Emerald Cup’s most prestigious flower categories.

Despite the recent changes this year, at its heart, the Emerald Cup is the world championship of outdoor pot. Even placing in it is a career-defining achievement for some. Win it and you’re the biggest outdoor name for a year. Win it a couple of times and you’re a legend.

This year, The Farmer and The Felon took home the coveted licensed sungrown prize with Gorilla Snacks. Founder Dennis Hunter spoke with us about his brand’s crowning achievement to date.

“Our whole team is just elated. It’s so cool to win with a brand like Farmer [and the Felon] in the sense that it brings more and more attention to the brand. More attention to the message around the brand and what it stands for. We’re just really stoked,” Hunter told L.A. Weekly.

We asked Hunter if Gorilla Snacks was always the pheno he had an eye on going into the cup.

“Yeah, this is one of my favorites and it’s actually another good friend of mine who bred it from Scooby Snacks and Gorilla Glue,” Hunter replied. “I’ve been watching him grow up for years and this is just a really great pheno.”

Hunter admitted they aren’t in full production mode yet. But you can certainly expect that to change shortly. The team is currently focused on pumping out as many clones as possible heading into summer.

“We’re just super grateful to get this award and looking forward to getting the Gorilla Snacks out on the farm all this next year,” Hunter said.

Santa Barbara’s Local Cannabis Company took home the mixed light honors for their rendition of Ice Cream Cake from a four-year-old phenotype hunted down by cultivation director and part-owner Dan Wittlinger.

“It just takes so many people to accomplish this stuff but yeah, it’s great, it’s incredible,” Wittlinger said, emphasizing he wasn’t trying to take all the credit for the team’s win. “Well, we were way more prepared this year, but a little shocked that the Ice Cream Cake won being it’s a pretty abundant strain in the industry right now.”

But regardless of the various versions of Ice Cream Cake in the wild, Wittlinger’s is no doubt special.

“After selecting all these phenotypes and doing this for so long, there’s no doubt that it’s a special pheno. And with Arnaldo in the greenhouse and all these people, it takes such a team to be able to do all this. He does such a great job of growing it right,” Wittlinger said.

Wittlinger noted their setup is different than much of the mixed-light pack – they did this in an old structure meant for cut flowers. “We’ve turned it into such a special place and we don’t have this high-tech greenhouse like a lot of people have – no supplemental lighting – so it’s even more amazing.”

Wittlinger emphasized he comes from a heavy indoor background and working with Arnaldo and the team, “They just do such an amazing job to be able to get that indoor air quality.”

We asked Wittlinger Ice Cream Cake and the second place Sherbhead were generally high on his list.

“I mean, it’s hard to say that Ice Cream Cake isn’t the favorite but the Sherbhead is a newer creation in the last couple of years,” Wittlinger said. “But I’m still not surprised at the Ice Cream Cake as a grower.”

But he is certainly surprised as someone that just won the cup with the same strain as the last mixed-light champ.

For the inaugural indoor competition at The Emerald Cup, Connected’s Gelonade took home the prize. The first contest it ever won was two years ago at LA Weekly’s inaugural Desert Smoke-Off.

Connected’s founder Caleb Counts summed up the team’s enthusiasm to L.A. Weekly.

“I’m so fucking pumped. It’s a huge honor, and of course I’m just super excited. Gelonade just keeps winning different things and it’s just proof that we’re doing something right. It’s super rewarding,” Counts said.

We asked Counts about the confidence the team gets from seeing their work hold up. There has been plenty of time for something to come along that could have knocked Gelonade of its perch.

“It just further cements it that we’re heading in the right direction and the efforts that we’re putting into our breeding program are going to continue to pay off because we’ve already crossed Gelonade with a few other things,” Counts said. “It’s obviously building a legacy, you know for itself, it will hopefully continue down that family line and continue to bring the customers what they’re looking for.”

Counts admits he had a bit more faith in Biscotti leading up to the cup but said he wasn’t surprised given Gelonade is their second most popular option. “Flavor plus strength, right? That’s what’s difficult to find. It’s one or the other oftentimes in the past. With Gelonade you bring the insane flavor like Starburst on your tongue, but the strength is there.”

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