Wonderbrett is a vertically integrated designer California cannabis brand that breeds new genetics, cultivates premium cannabis, and operates a storefront in Los Angeles’ Fairfax district.

Founder Brett Feldman has been deeply rooted in cannabis culture since long before it hit the mainstream. In fact, he’s an original 90s cannabis cultivator whose little glass jars of weed have played a role in studio albums as legendary as The Chronic 2001. Brett was given an early cut of OG Kush, had a dedication to perfecting grow methods, and worked with a network of San Fernando Valley growers to help him perfect his bud. After a few years, Brett’s OG Kush became the most coveted flavor in California, especially in Los Angeles.

The Wonderbrett story started when Brett had the guts to go up to Xhibit in Tower Records to tell the rapper that he grew the best weed in town. It turned out that Xhibit agreed about Brett’s OG Kush and the flavor became beloved by the main players in the West Coast rap scene. It was such a part of the culture then that studio sessions would shut down on dry weeks.

“Weed wasn’t very legal and you were… the weed guy. You know, everybody was just like ‘don’t let anything happen to the weed guy otherwise everything’s gonna be really bad at the studio here.’ A lot of the music was fueled by the good genetics that we had. When they didn’t have good weed, the vibe was off at the studio and they just didn’t make good music and they would just leave,” said Brett. This access to the Kush made the hip-hop community protective of one of the few white boys they let in their inner circle, their weed dealer that they affectionately called Wonderbread. Eventually, the nickname evolved to Wonderbrett and, twenty years later, that nickname is growing into a multi-state cannabis operation.

Brett was given the original cut of OG Kush by Matt ‘Bubba’ Berger in 1997, just four years after growing his first cannabis plant from seed in his parent’s backyard. That OG cut was special and Brett felt the urge to preserve it, and he has. Twenty years later, Brett and partner Cameron Damwijk still have that original cut that started it all. As a Californian who moved out of state, when I had the chance to talk to Brett, the first thing that I had to ask him was why OG Kush always tastes better when it’s grown in California.

Dialing in how he grows cannabis hasn’t been a solo endeavor. Brett was learning to grow at a time when indoor cultivators were risking jail time for doing cannabis business. Brett compared notes with his friends, who also grew indoors in Southern California, on how various inputs impacted harvests, flavor, and aroma. Eventually, Brett understood how to work with the plant to coax out the best flavors, bud structures, and aromas in the growing process. He continues learning and tweaking his own style to best support each individual strain and avoids jumping on to the latest cultivation trends. This is how he grows consistently dank flower and continues to breed viable new flavors.

“There’s something about the California cut, the way it’s grown here,” said Brett. “We have stayed true to our original recipes and our style of watering, and we are constantly evolving to get better at what our craft is, but we create our cannabis a certain way because we want the cannabis to turn out a certain way here.”

Even with methods dialed in, it has taken some time to transition from operating in the gray areas of California’s Prop 215 into the state-regulated Prop 64. That’s not just because the process of getting a license in California is opaque but because the product must be perfect before Wonderbrett will put it on shelves for the consumer. Each nug is put through rigorous quality control that ends with a Wonderbrett employee who is exceptionally familiar with the way each bud is supposed to look, smell, and taste before it goes into designer, sometimes interactive, packaging. If a batch doesn’t look up to standards, which doesn’t happen often, it is wholesaled out of the brand. If it is sold as Wonderbrett, it’s going to be the best — just like it was in 1998.

As their operations streamline, Wonderbrett is expanding into the Michigan market in partnership with Cloud Cannabis Co. It is essential that they carry their high standards into a new market, so Cameron is spending time there to establish the operating procedures for producing the intentional bud that the team is so passionate about. These exotic, tropical flavors extend from that OG Kush but take on completely new identities in the form of Cherry Trop, Melon OG, Peach OZ, Black Orchid, and more.

Brett feels the pressure to put out new strains every six months to stay in the conversation, “There’s an insatiable appetite for new, just new. I consider it has to be special and great every time…We really have to keep breeding and pheno-hunting to be able to play this game consistently like this and keep that spotlight of the conversation about our genetics.”

He does keep up, and with a product that lives up to his very high standards. They release new delicious flavors consistently throughout the year but it can take two years to go from breeding a new phenotype to seeing that product packaged on Wonderbrett’s retail shelves. Additionally, they must first stabilize each new flavor for a few harvests in order to understand the optimal inputs, curing, and growing cycle.

Though the hype culture of exotic genetics can be tiring, Brett finds immense joy in breeding new flavors to present to the community: “When you can find something that tastes like melon, sweet candy, or orange, it really is like discovering a new fruit and when you cross these things and make something new and special out of it, it’s so fun to discover those things and they’re found discoveries. They’re there and you have to hunt for them.”

He loves introducing new flavors and showing people what well-grown cannabis really looks like, but Brett also recalls the impact that new strain hype can have on the industry. Back when he introduced OG Kush to California, it maintained a hold on the market for over a decade. Growers shifted their rooms to accommodate what the people were buying, and all of a sudden there were no more cultivators putting out treasures like Northern Lights, Lavender, and Sour Diesel; everyone was selling packs of OG Kush. Even so, pheno-hunting and developing new genetics seems to be Brett’s real passion.

The way Brett speaks about how breeding cannabis is like unlocking the secret potential in each plant is inspiring. He sees beyond fan leaves and colas. This type of horticultural sorcery is something that Brett and his friends learned together through trial and error. Now, as they partner with labs and begin to better understand the processes that are happening in the plant from their methods, science is proving that they have done a lot of things right without much guidance. Not every grower can just pop some new exotic seeds and turn over a beautiful crop. Working with newer genetics isn’t for novice cultivators but that won’t stop newer growers from trying out new genetics, and to that Brett advises keeping a close network.

“It’s hard when you don’t know what you’re doing. When you do know what you’re doing a lot of things go your way and it’s pretty simple,” Brett explains, “It took me so many years, there was no guidance, you just had to feel around in the dark and figure this all out. And that’s why a group of friends get together and do this together because you can accumulate more knowledge in a faster way when you can work together.”

Working together with other legendary Southern California growers got Brett and Cameron where they are today: opening retail stores that they can proudly tell their moms about. The brand remains dedicated to the culture as they grow. Brett hosts dinner parties paired to a Wonderbrett flavor. Wonderbrett also stays current with music culture, featuring up-and-coming artists at culinary events and collaborating on new flavors with musicians. As they build, Wonderbrett tactfully rides a razor’s edge between wanting to create a designer product that is as predictable as a can of name-brand soda and preserving the legacy and culture of the plant. Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive: weed doesn’t have to either go corporate or stay underground, and the Wonderbrett brand proves it.