Wine Country

The Valley of the Moon

Monday, September 30th, 2013

It was one of those weekends that combined evening hours spent with great friends in celebration of a birthday, and a day spent journeying to a farm in search of beautiful pumpkins and seasonal produce (the squash, the tomatoes, so good). I’ve realized stepping away from the computer on the weekends is pure delight, and it’s in those hours of ignoring the screens or smartphone that I feel like I’m really living. 

Last week, Matt and I stole away for a day to one of our favorite destinations in Sonoma County, the idyllic Valley of the Moon. The author Jack London lived in the territory – its name originates from the Native American Miwok tribe who referred to this special region nestled between mountains and hills as the “Valley of the Moon”.

I thought I’d share some snaps of what’s happening in the high season which begins in late September and lasts through late November. The harvest and crush are in full swing as each grape reaches the ripe and ready point. The tourists are arriving from all around the world to soak up the sunshine and indulge in the flavors of the region.

sonoma valley of the moon vineyard

The vineyards sprawl for miles and miles in Sonoma and Napa counties and grapes are planted strategically by terroir. There are a few wineries that (lucky for the us) plant rows of different varietals adjacent to each other in a small plot of land to show the difference between a merlot, a cabernet, a syrah, a zinfandel, a chardonnay, and a sauvignon blanc.

Every varietal is ready to be picked at a different time over the course of the harvest season. Each grape is distinct, down to its color, flavor, cluster, and even the characteristics of the leaves, yet they all thrive in this place we’re lucky to call our backyard. 

different varietals and leaves

   

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Growing and Caring for Lavender

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Three years ago Matt and I visited Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Gardens in early summer and wandered among the beautiful purple fields. Ever since we’ve returned every year, and even attended their annual Days of Wine and Lavender in late June which takes place under the oaks and among the lavender fields. It’s a beautiful event with gourmet food vendors pairing their lavender infused appetizers with the local wines, definitely worth a day trip in June if you’re in the area!

Lavender has been cultivated and grown for centuries and its a flowering plant that has long been a favorite through the ages for its beauty, scent, culinary and therapeutic uses. I’m a huge fan of this botanical, I have two dozen Provence lavender plants in my yard that I harvest every summer – I keep the buds for making sachets and dry several bundles upside-down for future use.

I asked if the specialist at Matanzas Creek would answer some questions about the growth and care of lavender, and today Pat Ross is the expert answering some common questions about the care and growth of lavender.

matanzas creek lavender

Hi Pat! Tell us your role in lavender production at Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Gardens?

I oversee the production of all of our lavender products and packaging, developing the unique packaging and marketing the products to spas and retail stores. We sell our lavender products online, you can find all of them in our retail store.

Lavender sunlight

What are the most popular varieties of lavender and how can you tell them apart?

Our large garden is both varieties of Grosso and Provence lavender. ‘Provence’ is a lighter shade of lavender used for culinary purposes. The ‘Grosso’ is a deeper shade used because the fragrance is important in sachets, bouquets, soap products, etc.

difference between provence and grosso lavender

 

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