Each June Sonoma County blossoms with lavender, and celebrates with lavender events, lavender sales, and lavender farm tours.
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.
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.
From May to July the winery’s Season of Wine and Lavender presents a three-month celebration with a series of activities and tours. The 2018 lineup starts with a spring garden party kick-off celebration June 2, when guests can venture through the estate gardens on a progressive wine tasting tour, with gourmet appetizers, live music, and gorgeous scenery ($30).
The beautiful lavender fields make for inspiring photographs. The Wine & Photography Safari ($30, bring your own camera) on select evenings in June and July offers guests a guided tour of premier photographic locations, while sampling specific wines along the way.
And daily from May 1 to July 15, the Estate & Lavender Barn Experience ($10, with souvenir wine glass) offers a chance to explore the grounds — including olive groves, native grasses, and even some local wildlife — then browse the lavender barn, taste Sauvignon Blanc, stroll through the lavender gardens, or bring a picnic to enjoy.
The lavender barn displays Mantanzas Creek's extensive collection of lavender products made by the estate artists, including soaps, lotions, and potpourri.
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 (farm tours by appointment only).
Family owned and operated, Sonoma Lavender Company (Kenwood, 707-523-4411) cultivates about 7,000 lavender plants on eight acres. It produces pampering lavender heat wraps, candles, diffusers, sachets, body elixirs, dream pillows, lavender-stuffed toy animals, gifts, and home accents. Products are sold online at sonomalavendershop.com.
Bees N Blooms (3883 Petaluma Hill Road, Santa Rosa, 707-293-8293) presents a Lavender Labyrinth, the largest in California. Stroll through the fragrant fields of eight different types of lavender and enjoy other flowers, as well. They have honeybees to visit, a tree nursery to peruse, and an organic vegetable garden.
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. Visit the company's farm, production barn, and showroom outside of Sebastopol.
While the grape harvest might be more well-known, Sonoma County's lavender harvest each June is both beautiful and deliciously fragrant.