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Matanzas Creek Winery in Bennett Valley has been a haven for lavender lovers since 1991. Visitors come to sip Sauvignon Blanc on a terrace overlooking lilac and amethyst fields dotted with sunflowers. The lavender is organically farmed by master gardener Joel Garcia and the blossoms are used in culinary, bath, body and home products sold at the winery’s lavender market. This year, the winery is hosting "Season of Wine and Lavender," a two-month celebration that includes special events and wine pairings. 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, 707-528-6464, matanzascreek.com (Photo courtesy of Matanzas Creek Winery)
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Lavender Bee Farm in Petaluma is host to over 5,000 lavender plants and multiple beehives. The farm, presided over by Jo Ann and Richard Wallenstein, is “chem-free” (no pesticides or chemical fertilizers) and open to visitors by appointment. Lavender Bee Farm produces and sells an array of lavender products with delicious and healing qualities: lavender buds for migraines, culinary lavender for creative cooks, lavender eye masks for sleep aid and stress relief and - of course - lavender honey. 746 Chapman Lane, Petaluma, 707-789-0554, lavenderbeefarm.com (Jo Ann Wallenstein, photographed by Jeff Kan Lee)
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Lynn’s Lavender & Lotsmore in Sebastopol is located on the Tanuda Ridge Vineyards of Lynn Rossman and her husband Mike. The estate includes three acres of pinot noir grapes, sold to local winemakers, and two acres of lavender planted in 2004. After harvest, Lynn and Mike dry the lavender and then process it into a series of products, including body balms, scrubs, body and linen mists. The farm is open to members. 3335 Harrison Grade Road, Sebastopol, 707-874-9960, lynnslavender.com (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Sonoma Lavender in Kenwood is one of the largest purveyors of lavender products in the United States. Founded by Gary and Rebecca Rosenberg, the company remains a family-run business growing three varieties of lavender: English Lavender, with a sweet, flowery aroma; Provence Lavender; and Lavender Grosso, a French cultivar with a more herb-like fragrance. Sonoma Lavender products, made in Santa Rosa, include lavender body elixirs, heated spa wraps, candles and sachets. The products are available at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, MacArthur Place and Pharmaca in Sonoma; at The Classic Duck in Santa Rosa; and online at sonomalavendershop.com. 420 Tesconi Cir # B, Santa Rosa 95401, 707-523-4411, sonomalavender.com (Rebecca and Gary Rosenberg, photographed by John Burgess)
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At the girl & the fig in Sonoma, Executive Chef Sondra Bernstein creates rustic meals inspired by the French countryside. Lavender is a culinary staple and makes an appearance in the restaurant’s crème brûlée as well as the seasoning salt. The girl & the fig features an antique bar with French aperitifs, award-winning Rhone Alones, and a lovely lavender twist on a classic mojito. Sonoma Hotel, 110 W Spain St, Sonoma 95476, 707-938-3634, thegirlandthefig.com (Photo courtesy of the girl and the fig)
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Nimble & Finn’s in Guerneville, founded by sisters Leandra Beaver and Jazmin Hooljer, scoops up some of the best artisan ice cream in Sonoma County, including a much-loved Lavender Honeycomb. 16290 Main St, Guerneville 95446, 707-666-9411, nimbleandfinns.com (Photo courtesy of Nimble and Finn's)
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Sweet Scoops' Lavender Fig ice cream is another local favorite. Sweet Scoops is owned and run by husband and wife team Joe and Ramie Hencmann, who abandoned “the rushed life” in Denver, Colorado and moved to Sonoma County to pursue a more creative lifestyle as the proprietors of the only homemade ice cream shop on the Sonoma Plaza. 408 1st St E, Sonoma 95476, 707-721-1187, sweetscoopsicecream.com (Photo courtesy of Sweet Scoops)
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The Spa Hotel Healdsburg offers massages, wraps, scrubs and facials that use products sourced from Sonoma County farms, including a restorative lavender peppermint massage. During the treatment, warm compresses of healing Himalayan salt and local herbs are placed along "meridian lines" to detoxify and balance the body. The spa’s special massage techniques soothe tight muscles, while rich lavender body butter from Matanzas Creek Winery hydrates and nourishes the skin. 327 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg 95448, 707-433-4747, hotelhealdsburg.com (Photo courtesy of Hotel Healdsburg)
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Traditional Medicinals has been making herbal teas since the early ‘70s, when Rosemary Gladstar and Drake Sadler founded the Sebastopol company in an effort to revive herbalism in North America. Gladstar later founded The California School of Herbal Studies and became a respected teacher of herbalism, while Sadler has dedicated his career to empowering indigenous and impoverished communities around the world that collect and cultivate medicinal plants. Fans of Traditional Medicinals can now enjoy a variety of herbal infusions, including relaxing “Chamomile with Lavender” tea and “Cup of Calm,” a blend of lavender, passionflower, chamomile and catnip. Traditional Medicinals teas are available online and at a variety of Sonoma County stores and community markets. 1-800-543-4372, traditionalmedicinals.com (Photo courtesy of Traditional Medicinals)
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Perk’s Pollinators in Petaluma, run by beekeeper and avid gardener Paty Perkins, pairs beeswax with natural, organic and locally sourced ingredients to make healing balms, creams, scrubs and oils. Their “Cocoa & Lavender Hand Balm” combines cocoa, mango seed butters, beeswax and lavender essential oils. The lavender provides balancing and calming properties, while the beeswax supplies antiseptic qualities. 405 Webster Street, Petaluma 94952, perks-pollinators.myshopify.com (Photo by John Burgess)
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Three Sisters Apothecary and Soapy Tails, the two brands from Sebastopol-based natural soap and skincare producer Soap Cauldron, feature several lavender offerings. Their bar soaps are handmade in small batches in the tradition of the first soap guilds of 7th century Europe, using only natural botanicals, pure essential and vegetable oils. The business is based at the Barlow in Sebastopol, and is named after the Yniguez sisters, Emma, Marlo and Pandora, of which founder and soap maker Emma Mann is the youngest. Check out local farmers markets and grocery stores for their French Lavender Body Butter, Lavender Lip Soother and Canine Care Gift Set for your pampered pooch. 6780 McKinley Street, Suite 120, Sebastopol 95472 (in the Circle of Hands Waldorf Store), 707-888-5659, soapcauldron.com (Photo by Erik Castro)
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Lavender Crème Brûlée by Sondra Bernstein, girl and the fig
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
3 to 4 sprigs fresh lavender or 1½ tablespoons dried culinary lavender, plus additional for garnish
8 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar plus about 4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the cream and milk in a saucepan and add the lavender. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Let the lavender steep for about 15 minutes or until the milk has a lavender flavor. (For a stronger flavor, allow the lavender to steep longer.)
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, and honey until smooth. Whisk it into the lavender-cream mixture. Strain though a fine-mesh sieve and skim off any foam. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins or brûlée dishes. Set the ramekins in a baking pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until set. (The custards are done when they stop jiggling.) Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool in the water bath for 5 minutes. Refrigerate, covered, for at least three hours or overnight.
Before serving, sprinkle the tops of the ramekins with a few teaspoons of sugar and caramelize with a small torch or under a broiler set on high. (Photo by Steven Krause/Plats du Jour)
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Goat Cheese & Lavender-Honey Toasts by Sondra Bernstein, girl and the fig
Makes about 50 nibbles
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon culinary lavender (save a pinch for garnish)
1 cup fresh goat cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
Place the honey and lavender in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Let the lavender steep in the honey until you have reached the desired intensity. Strain the lavender and set aside.
Place the goat cheese and cream in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the lavender honey to taste (about 5 tablespoons). Whisk until the mixture is light.
Place the goat cheese mixture on a toasted baguette or cracker of your choice. Drizzle with the honey and garnish with the reserved lavender. (Photo by Steven Krause/Plats du Jour)
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Lavender Mojito by Sondra Bernstein, girl and the fig
Makes 2 cocktails
4 ounces light rum
16–20 fresh mint leaves
Juice of 2 limes
2 ounces Lavender Simple Syrup
Lavender sugar rim or lavender sprigs, for garnish
Muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of a pint glass. Add the rum, lime juice, and lavender simple syrup and muddle a bit more. Add the ice, stir, and top with a splash of Club Soda. Garnish with a lime wedge, mint leaves or a lavender sprig.
Lavender Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons culinary lavender
In a saucepot, bring 1 cup of water, sugar, and lavender to a boil. simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and let sit until cool. strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and discard the lavender. Store the lavender simple syrup in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Note: Adjust the amount of lavender and the steeping time based on the strength of the lavender and your personal taste.
½ cup superfine sugar
¼ cup culinary lavender
Place lavender and sugar in a coffee grinder and grind to a fine dust. (Photo by Steven Krause/Plats du Jour)