Connected Gelonade flower 2021. (David Downs/Leafly)
Strains & products

The Emerald Cup’s 2021 winners and where to buy them

Published on April 12, 2021 · Last updated October 20, 2021

California smokers have some new all-stars to snap up in stores.

Sunday in Santa Rosa, CA, and online, the organizers of The Emerald Cup 2021 announced the winners of the prestigious pot contest during a 90-minute livestream. Now the race is on to buy up these winning brands and strains, and taste a piece of the glory.

The awards started at 4:20 pm Sunday featuring pre-recorded skits from Abdullah Saeed, musical performances from Ziggy Marley, and an interview with the 2020 Willie Nelson Award winner, Winona Laduke.

Even during a pandemic, the creme of California breeders, cultivators, extractors, and manufacturers sent their best for what Leafly has previously called “the world’s largest commercial outdoor cannabis contest.”

Despite an increasingly bad fire season that burned many outdoor grows, contest categories swelled this year to 37 total. As legalization makes information more accessible, cannabis is proving far more complex than its THC content.

The Emerald Cups 2021 winners trophies. (Courtesy The Emerald Cup)
The Emerald Cup 2021 trophies. (Courtesy The Emerald Cup)

A new categorization system organized strains by their most dominant aroma molecules “the terpenes,” as well as awards for:

  • highest terpene content;
  • THCV content;
  • and most unique cannabinoid profile.

Here are the top winners and where to buy them:

Best flowers of the Emerald Cup 2021

Best in show

Ice Cream Cake (David Downs:Leafly)
A scoop of Ice Cream Cake from 2020. (David Downs/Leafly)

Give it up for the trendy indica hybrid Ice Cream Cake bred by Seed Junky and cultivated by Local Cannabis Co. This stony, sweet-tooth hybrid of Wedding Cake x Gelato has been riding a wave of popularity that didn’t crest in 2020. We gave Ice Cream Cake the nod for “7 weed strains for winter hibernation,” as well as runner-up for “Top strains of 2020.”

Best indoor weed in California

Gelonade (Photo by Chewberto; Courtesy Connected)
Gelonade indoor flower. (Photo by Chewberto; Courtesy Connected)

In January, Leafly predicted that the Lemon Tree X Gelato 41 cross, Gelonade, was going to have an epic year. Indeed, Gelonade by Connected Cannabis takes the Emerald Cup for best indoor flower. Yew! You can’t go wrong with gobs of lemon syrup married to creamy berry and scrumptious cookie goodness.

Best sungrown flower of California

Pink Boost Goddess outdoor wields citrusy sativa energy. (David Downs/Leafly)
Yas, queen: Pink Boost Goddess from Emerald Spirit Botanicals, 2020. (David Downs/Leafly)

Pink Boost Goddess by Emerald Spirit Botanicals won best 3rd-party-certified sungrown. Meanwhile, Farmer and the Felon’s Gorilla Snacks won the overall sungrown category, proving consciously-grown cannabis is gaining traction.

Best mixed light (aka greenhouse)

Ready for it? Ice Cream Cake bred by Seed Junky and cultivated by Local Cannabis Co. took best greenhouse herb. For the second year in a row, the buds of Seed Junky and Local Cannabis Co.’s labors have nabbed first place.

Best pre-rolled flower joint

Can’t roll your own? No judgment. That’s why we have pre-rolls. Seek out the brand Atrium for their first place GMO Cookies x Juice Z. In second, ZRUNTZ’s 5-pack. Third place goes to LitHouse for Lemon Lava.

Best hemp flower

A collaboration between Hakira and Biotech Institute yielded a fragrant plant with a unique cannabinoid profile. Guava Jam 2.0 has an approximately 1:1 ratio of CBD to CBDV, which may aid in seizure prevention.

Where to buy them:

Best concentrates of California

Best solventless concentrates (water hash, rosins)

(Courtesy The Emerald Cup 2021)

First, let’s talk about extracts made without butane or other explosive solvents—commonly dubbed “solventless.”

Look to Strawberry Jelly by Papa’s Select—they effectively swept their category, winning first, second, and third for ice water hash.

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Kalya’s Patty’s Cake placed first for pressed rosin. Kalya also placed 4th and 8th in rosins.

(Courtesy The Emerald Cup 2021)

Best hydrocarbon concentrates (BHO)

Many tasty forms of modern hash come from hydrocarbon extraction, like medical-grade butane.

First place in solid hydrocarbon extracts goes to Moonbow “butter frosting” produced by the winning combination of Surprize Surprize and Alien Labs.

Meanwhile, a Gelonade extract by Humboldt Terp Council won in the liquid hydrocarbon category.

Where to buy them

Best edibles of California 2021

Best edibles: sweet, and savory

(Courtesy The Emerald Cup 2021)

Full-spectrum and hash-based edibles are having a moment, so a Feeling Frosty collaboration with OM Edibles was bound to win its category. OM & Feeling Frosty Mixed Berry Vegan Rosin Gummies, for the win!

In the savory edible category, the edibles company Potli won with a sriracha sauce!

(Courtesy The Emerald Cup 2021)

As for drinks, the top of the pops went to Cannacraft and Lagunitas’ Hi-Fi Hops Unplugged.

(Courtesy The Emerald Cup 2021)

Best tincture of California

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first place tincture was also made from solventless concentrate. The winner is a mouthful, but congrats to the “Lempire Farmaseed Dirty Zkittlez rosin tincture” made by LH Manufacturing and Compassionate Heart Mutual Benefits Corp.

Where to buy them:

Best vape products of California 2021

Best vape carts in Cali 2021

Fresh-frozen flowers often become “live resin” extracts that sometimes get squeezed into a disposable vape cart. Last year’s flower winner Runtz wins gold yet again in the form of the Arcata Fire live resin vape cartridge.

(Courtesy The Emerald Cup 2021)

In the traditional “distillate” vape cart category, the extract artisans Blue River dominated with a Chocolate Orange “jelly sauce” pen. This was unique because Blue River’s jelly sauce is a proprietary, premium-grade “solventless oil” (for which there is no contest category), not a distillate at all.

(Courtesy The Emerald Cup 2021)

Where to buy them

These hashes are so elite, we’re still tracking them down in stores. Locate and buy concentrates nearby with Leafly’s extract search.

Full Emerald Cup 2021 winners list

Sounds like a lot, right? These aren’t even all the winners in every category! For a full rundown of Emerald Cup Award winners, runners-up, and entries, check out the full Emerald Cup 2021 winners list here.

Watching the Emerald Cup Awards on a smartphone doesn’t have quite the same impact as standing in an auditorium trying to make out who’s on stage through a smoke blizzard, but Tim and Taylor Blake and their team used their time in quarantine to translate the multi-day weed convention at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA to a week of panels, artistic performances, and awards to online platform Social Club TV.

Cheers to them for pulling off a virtual shindig, and to hopefully never having to have a virtual-only cannabis event ever again!

What Emerald Cup winner do you want to try the most? Comment below.

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Amelia Williams
Amelia Williams
New York-based freelance cannabis journalist Amelia Williams is a graduate of San Francisco State University's journalism program, and a former budtender. Williams has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle's GreenState, MG Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Cannabis Now, Kirkus Reviews, and The Bold Italic.
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