Each June Sonoma County blossoms with lavender, and celebrates with lavender festivals, lavender sales, and even lavender-inspired dining.
In ancient times, lavender was a favorite of Mediterranean royalty. Today, the tiny purple blooms with their distinctive perfume are popular plants in Sonoma Wine Country. Their fine silver-gray stalks can be left wild and bushy, or trimmed into manicured curves. They grow wild and in gardens, and — along with the bees who adore their fragrent pollen — all we have to do is look around and see the explosion of colors.
One way to celebrate this beauty is the Sonoma Lavender Open House, when the Sonoma Lavender company (Kenwood, 707-523-4411) opens its barn/warehouse to the public for two weekends in June. See details.
Some of Sonoma County’s most breathtaking lavender is found at Matanzas Creek Winery (6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, 707-528-6464) in the Bennett Valley. Its annual Days of Wine & Lavender Festival is enormously popular, with hundreds of guests coming for food, drink, arts and crafts, and music, and to admire the more than 4,500 lavish lavender bushes in full bloom in the two-acre estate garden.
For 2016, the ceremony takes place June 25, from noon until 4 p.m. Tickets are $125 ($110 in advance) and provide access to elaborate food stations. Lavender is often included as an ingredient in the recipes; previous dishes included lavender coconut rock-shrimp ceviche, lavender-roasted pork shoulder with creamy coleslaw, and chocolate-lavender infused Pot de Creme with summer-berry salad.
The gala also offers sensory seminars with winemaker Marcia Monahan-Torres, Sauvignon Blanc and Seafood pairings, Merlot and Mushrooms pairings, and premium label tastings like Matanzas’ Journey wines.
Matanzas opens it lavender barn, as well, to show off its extensive collection of lavender products made by the estate artists, including soaps, lotions, and potpourri. Read more about lavender wellness at Matanzas Creek Winery.
For many of Sonoma County's lavender businesses, their products may be available year-round online, but the harvest season is the only time they open their doors to the public.
Because of its exceptional taste, the pure, raw lavender honey from Lavender Bee Farm (764 Chapman Lane, Petaluma, 707-789-0554) sells out every year. With three varieties of lavender, more than 5,000 lavender plants, and multiple beehives, this family farm is chemical-free, using no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It's lavender products include bouquets, sachets, and hydrosols (steam-distilled aromatic water). Their products are sold online all year round, but the farm is only open in harvest season.
And with more than two acres planted in lavender, Lynn's Lavender & Lotsmore (3335 Harrison Grade Road, Sebastopol, 707-874-9960) celebrates the beauty and fragrances of fresh lavender through personal care products, including lotion, body balm, shampoo, and conditioner.
While the grape harvest might be more well-known, Sonoma County's lavender harvest each June is both beautiful and deliciously fragrant.