Sherbinskis started in a small garage in Sunset District, San Francisco and has grown to be recognized worldwide as one of today’s fastest-growing premium cannabis lifestyle brands. The cult-favorite was founded by Mario Guzman, aka Mr. Sherbinski, the renowned grower and creator of world-famous, dessert-titled genetics like Sunset Sherbert, Mochi, and Leafly’s 2018 Strain of the Year– the ever-popular Gelato.
Connoisseurs of the brand include many of today’s greatest artists, designers, and creators, including Wiz Khalifa, John Mayer, Lil Uzi Vert, Migos, Ty Dolla Sign, and Famous Dex. You have to look no further than Young Dolph’s “Gelato,” Calvin Harris’s “Slide,” or Famous Dex’s “Nervous” to get a taste of the strain’s influence.
Set to open a new retail space on Fairfax Avenue in L.A. this spring, Sherbinskis’ new cannabis club will literally be down the street from Supreme. Until then you can find the brand’s premium cannabis products, which includes cannabis flower, pre-rolls, a variety of concentrates, vape cartridges, and lifestyle home goods, in select dispensaries across North America as well as Barneys’ newly opened High End.
So just how did Sherbinskis go from growing weed in a Sunset District garage to breeding the most sought-after cannabis strains in the world?
It’s been three years since famed San Francisco cannabis breeders Mr. Sherbinski and Jigga crossed two crowd favorites (Sunset Sherbert and Thin Mint Cookies) and created a strain that’s been endlessly hyped, right down to the number on the pots — Gelato.
The pairing of two of the highest-end connoisseur phenos the market had to offer at that time was a mega-prospect for anyone in San Francisco with a clue about local cannabis lineage.
Despite living in the shadows of the master cultivators in the hills of the Emerald Triangle only a few hours North, the city has always held it down when it comes to growing NorCal quality indoor pot. Since 2010, the genetic lineage that brought us Cookies has been numero uno in The Bay in terms of local genetic success stories.
“Everybody likes the desserts, and we wanted to come up with a gelato. We were going for an international vibe,” Sherbinski said.
To understand why Gelato hit the scene the way it did, you have to understand the full story of its lineage and the guys who the put the work in over the years to make it happen.
Roughly six years ago, Jigga and Sherbinski were introduced to each other by Dog Boy. A popular member of the San Francisco cannabis scene in his own right, Dog Boy was Sherbinski’s kickboxing student.
After they decided they wanted to do some projects together, Jigga produced some Burmese Blackberry Kush pollen he had acquired. At that point, Sherbinski was running a good OG Kush pheno and some Afgoo but knew he “wanted to grow more exotics.”
Jigga brought some pollen over to where Sherbinski was running his OG Kush. The seeds from that dusting six years ago became the Pink Panties strain and marked the beginning of Sherbinski’s career as a cannabis breeder.
Pink Panties was not a yielder and, due to the growing techniques of the time being inadequate to its specific needs, the strain was shelved for years.
“That’s why you didn’t see her for a long time,” Sherbinski said. “It’s just kind of coming out in the last year or two.”
Despite its disappointing yields, Sherbinski did pop seeds of the Pink Panties and brought a 6-inch tall plant to his grandma’s house, where he was running some of Jigga’s Thin Mint Cookies — unquestionably the original Cookies strain — and his good OG pheno.
Jigga told him to toss the miniature plant in his room for a few days to mature it to the point where he’d be able to tell if it was male or female before it pollinated.
“So I stuck it in there, I think I went on a weekend trip or something, I came back on Tuesday and all I saw was powder on the plant. I figured out what happened: the whole room got pollinated,” Sherbinski said. “That was a Pink Panties male, it wasn’t a selection from a propagation project or anything, just one we had busted open. That accident pollination ended up being the Sherbert.”
When asked to reaffirm that Sherbert was indeed a basement accident from grandma’s house, Sherbinski confirmed with a laugh.
“Yeah, that was not planned parenthood,” he said. “I was mad and still didn’t understand the blessing that it was at the time”
After his trimmers cleaned up the dusted crop of Cookies, he decided to go back on a bean hunt in the stem and trim bags and ended up pulling about 60 seeds from those waste materials.
“Those seeds that I pulled out of the garbage are the ones I sprouted at another location, in another small little garage,” he said. “You have to do it like that when you’re breeding otherwise your whole room gets seeded out.”
The Sherbert came out of those seeds, and he also recovered the seeds from the Pink Panties x OG, but he has yet to go back into that seed stock to hunt down the winners.
“The Sherbert was doing great so we just pushed that one,” he said. “It’s Sherbert, but it’s from the Sunset so [we] call it Sunset Sherbert.”
The strain was a big win for the breeders of San Francisco’s Pacific Coast neighborhoods who didn’t feel like they were getting any love.
“People hate on garage growing, but you look at that picture, the one that shows all the garages where Apple and Microsoft started, it’s true in cannabis too,” Sherbinski said. “A lot of the products that changed the culture of cannabis and strains came from garages.”
Sherbinski believes the hype of Jigga’s Cookies carried over into the next generation that was Sherbert.
“A lot of folks said Cookies was the OG takeover. Nobody thought that anyone who was a real connoisseur of cannabis would want to smoke anything that wasn’t OG,” he said. “We all thought it was the best until Cookies came along. A lot of people said that Sherbert, when it came along, was on that level… but it wasn’t as heavy.”
Sherbinski and Jigga now had their Iron Chef Japan quality ingredients: Sunset Sherbert and Thin Mint Cookies. They went through a vigorous pollinating project in all directions, with the Cookies pollinating the Sherbert and vice versa.
The seeds they would get from that project would become the now famous Gelato.
Sherbinski said those resulting Gelato seeds are some of the best seed stock he has ever had the privilege to work with, as nearly every pheno that came out of it was good quality.
“Normally you do a cross and you want to keep one pheno or two and figure out which one is the best one,” he said. But as they kept popping more and more seeds, Sherbinski said, “they were all so good.”
Each pheno had its own thing going on in terms of smell and the way it was cultivated. Sherbinski said the Gelato stock opened his mind to the so many reasons he would select a plant, be it because of terpenes, flowering time or short ceilings.
All of the plants in the initial Gelato propagation project were numbered, which Sherbinski says has lead to the practice of adding them to the name.
“The funny thing is people know them as the 25, 33 and the 41,” he said. “Those were just the numbers I put on the pots, they’re not the names. That would be like having kids and calling them 5, 6, 7, 8.”
There were 25 phenos at the table, 75 had already been cut from the running.
“I didn’t expect that much variation. We had a nice meal with our friends with a ballot and we rolled up every single pheno that we had,” he said. “You sprout 200 and the ones that aren’t coming up fast are gone right off the bat, anything that isn’t showing rapid development leaf structure, you remove those right away.”
Sherbinski has continually developed the Gello and Mochi lines of Gelato over the past couple of years.
“Until you get to really large scale production, it doesn’t really make sense to have more than two or three strains,” he said. “If you’re trying to get access for the patients to good medicine, you can really only do it so much, unless you’re in a thousand light facility which isn’t really happening yet here in California.“
When asked what it was like seeing the same positive results of the Cookies again with Gelato — the newest in a legendary family of genetics — Sherbinski was quick to note the Cookies was before his time; it was gifted to him by Jigga.
“But everything we set out to do after that was coming from a good place. I truly believe good things come out of it,” he said.
Sherbinski and Jigga made a conscious effort to promote positive energy in their growing space. Before they started on any type of breeding project, they’d say a prayer with everyone that was in the room, and if anyone wasn’t vibing along those lines they would need to leave.
“We tried to bless that, and the best intentions for that medicine to get out there,” he said. “The passion that we put into making sure it was the highest quality medicine for the patients that were getting it is pretty amazing. It’s one of those things that’s unbelievable but it is believable. You put in hard work and all the stars align and then good things happen to people with good intentions.”
Sherbinski’s had to deal with his fair share of imitators when it comes to Sherbert and Gelato, but he has plans for protecting his efforts in the expanding market.
“I think branding is huge this year, and I’ve managed to create this hype and get where we are without any logos or marketing,” he said. “Basically just through word of mouth and through natural organic culture, we feel we helped create.”