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Wineries– Matanzas Creek

  Lavender shrubs in winter, Matanzas Creek  

In Search of Lavender

January may seem an odd time to go looking for lavender. But in Northern California, just after December’s unyielding rains, the countryside is knitted together in patches of bright green. After months and months of nothing but crisp, dry brown, the days just after Christmas bring a sneak preview of spring to Sonoma County, teasing not a few brave buds.

Like its hearty herb brethren rosemary and thyme, lavender persists through the winter—though with a bit more reserve than its lush summer persona. And one of the best places to find it, whether winter or summer is at Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa, California. Home to hundreds of carefully cultivated lavender plants, Matanzas Creek winery is a sort of Provence-in-Sonoma with fields of grey and purple shrubs throwing off a delicate, vegetative perfume regardless of the season. Sniff deeply, and their aroma will stay with you through the day, calm and meditative.

Though it is first, and foremost a winery—and a critically acclaimed one at that—Matanzas Creek attracts an equal number of gardeners and lavender fanatics to its fields of windswept native grasses, oak trees and, of course, the various types of lavender that bow and sway like a violet carpet throughout the summer. The winery has more than 4500 lavender plants beautifully arranged over a single acre, yielding some 2 million stems each year.

June and July are the best months to see the display, when blooms explode in sprays of heliotrope, magenta, lilac, plum...and just about every other shade of purple. The winery hosts an annual Lavender Festival around this time, attracting hundreds of visitors to the fields.

But even in January, there are stalwart patches of lavender huddled together around the winery grounds and bloom despite the rain and cold. With a glass of Chardonnay (or Merlot) from the tasting room, it’s a visit that soothes the soul—no matter what time of year you go.

If you go: The winery sells a variety of lavender products, from cooking lavender that infuses the perfume into meats and sauces, to lavender soaps, lotions and bouquets for the home.

Matanzas Creek Winery: 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, California, 800.590.6464 or 707.528.6464.

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