The Four Twenty Collection is in no hurry to rush its products to market; the company believes a slow and steady approach results in better cannabis
In sailing terms, one could say that Nazareth Victoria is the type of guy who likes to tack to starboard when the rest of the fleet tacks to port. As the owner-operator of a highly successful Tier 2 cannabis farm in Okanogan County, Washington, he has many of his own ideas about the correct way to grow and market top-shelf marijuana.
At first glance, his farm has the appearance of many other similar operations: His plants all look big and healthy, his team members exude a sense of satisfaction and the operation has a neat, orderly feeling. However, closer examination reveals how he has created a well-oiled machine that consistently churns out product that sells quickly to a small number of select retailers who appreciate his attention to detail.
As a Tier 2, the Four Twenty Collection’s production is limited to 10,000 square feet of canopy. This relatively small size has necessitated a top-down approach to sales and marketing that emphasizes quality, while also arranging output in a manner that optimizes margin and price points.
Victoria’s son, Nazareth Victoria III is the general manager of the business, and oversees daily operations. His right-hand man is Santino Tarquinio, who’s responsible for the care and health of the crop. Together, the two men collaborate on all important decisions like strain selection, harvest dates and the farm’s nutrient regimen.
In the late 1970s, there was a famous wine commercial that featured the tagline, “We will sell no wine before its time.”
Substitute “flower” for the word “wine” and you might just have the perfect marketing slogan for the Four Twenty Collection. Nazareth Victoria is fanatical about a proper cure and its importance to the flavor and overall appearance of his flower. His belief in the careful ageing of quality cannabis borders on religious, and he insists that no flower be released until at least two months after harvest. His devotion to the proper cure has led the Four Twenty Collection to manufacture a series of custom designed drying/curing containers, which can be micro-controlled for air temperature, humidity and air flow.
The company follows a strict, step-by-step curing process: “First, we cut the plants down. All the valueless leaves are removed, and the branches are then hung in a custom-built container where they dry for about a week,” Victoria says. “From there the branches are placed in a paper bag for another week to even out the drying process. Next, the buds are removed and placed in a Mylar bag in the same room. They will stay in the bag for a month of additional drying. Finally, we seal the bags, and only open them about once a week for the two months it takes to release any unwanted gasses and the remaining chlorophyll in the plant material. At the end, the buds have virtually no chlorophyll, which allows you to taste the depth of the terpene profile without the flavor inhibitors present in freshly cut plant material.”
In the final analysis, Victoria sums up his philosophy simply and eloquently: “It’s all about patience and the belief that creating great things sometimes takes a bit of time,” he says. “In my mind, you cannot have truly great flower unless you give it a bit of time to allow the chlorophyll and moisture to dissipate in a slow transpiration-like process that results in a perfectly balanced final product.”
Marketed under several brands, including CDXX, Green Mountain Valley, Wildfire and Fatties, the Four Twenty Collection has taken a tiered approach to the sales of its marijuana products. CDXX is positioned as the ultra-premium brand, and according to Victoria, only 10% of the company’s production passes its intense in-house scrutiny for the CDXX line. Below CDXX is Green Mountain Valley (GMV). Victoria likes to say that GMV is still a premium brand, but just not quite as good as CDXX.
“We are extremely proud of our product line, and understood from the onset that taking a multi-line approach based on quality was something we had to master and take seriously right from the start,” Victoria says. “We would never cut corners when it comes to what goes into our best product lines.”
Employees hand-trim the CDXX line, while GMV is machine-trimmed. Wildfire is the company’s value brand, consisting of buds that aren’t quite as big or visually appealing as that of the premium brands. However, the Wildfire smoke is nonetheless a high-THC line of smaller buds that are carefully machine-trimmed to look uniform and shelf-ready. Finally, the Four Twenty Collection also sells a line of pre-rolls under the Fatties label.
“Fatties are 100% flower,” Victoria says, “and this is something that most of our competitors cannot also claim.”
Victoria III and Tarquinio carefully considered strains prior to planting. While many of the farm’s varieties are familiar names, such as Grape Ape, Strawberry Cough, Blue Dream, Cheese, Girl Scout Cookies, Acapulco Gold and Green Crack, others are a bit more esoteric, Including Lamb’s Bread, Tangie, Bigfoot and XJ-13. The team also decided to cultivate a small footprint of high-CBD varieties that included Harlequin and Sour Tsunami.
“Some of the strains we chose because of their well-known abilities to produce,” Victoria says. “Others were selected based on popularity. But in all cases, our goal was to maximize production and output.”
The Four Twenty Collection’s entire 2016 crop was started with cuttings obtained from outside sources. However, according to Victoria, the farm has a sizable seed bank, and may use some of its own stock in the future.
Many commercial growers have their own “secret sauce” when it comes to a nutrient regimen. Long gone are the days in which off-the-shelf, overpriced, stoner magazine products — and their wild claims — are taken seriously by professionals.
When it came to nutrients, the Four Twenty Collection utilized a carefully concocted custom blend that combined guano, molasses, worm castings, fish emulsion, kelp, bone mill, mycorrhiza and trace minerals. The results were spectacular, Victoria says. Combined with a living soil grow medium augmented with probiotics, his proprietary nutrient mix worked wonders.
The 2016 growing season out west was not as ideal as 2015. Cloudy weather late in the fall replaced the Indian summer of the previous year, and increased moisture was an ever-present issue. From California to Canada, cannabis farmers lamented conditions that hindered optimal bud growth.
“When things aren’t ideal, it further necessitates the need to be focused and to pay attention to detail,” Victoria says. “Our production is just as good as last year’s because of our top-down approach and careful husbandry.”
The Four Twenty Collection is a small marijuana operation as current farms go. However, because of its strict adherence to a slower and more careful curing and marketing process, its yearly production sells out well before the next season’s harvest. That’s just fine with Victoria, who’s in no hurry to get big.
“We love this business, and love what we do, and to me that’s the ultimate reward.”