It is said that the ancient Greeks and Romans added lavender to their bathwater, both for its fragrance and therapeutic properties. This would explain the botanical name of this ancient herb, from the Latin ‘lavare,’ meaning ‘to wash.’ But lavender isn’t limited to the bath. It can be used in any room of the house and even has a home in the spice cabinet (after all, it is in the same family as mint). A bundle hung in the closet is thought to deter moths and the oil is used in aromatherapy in the treatment of headaches and to reduce tension.
Each July, the hues of blue, mauve and purple emerge as lavender harvest time approaches once more. It takes only the lightest touch or swish of breeze to release the floral and slightly spicy aroma. The organic lavender that we grow here at King Estate Winery is Lavendula angustifolia ‘Buena Vista,’ a variety developed by Dr. Donald Roberts, a retired professor from Oregon State University. Dr. Roberts developed this variety for its superior oil fragrance, repeat bloom, and hardiness. Our lavender is distilled by Dr. Roberts at the Oregon-based Premier Botanicals in small batches in order to maintain the superior quality of this fine essential oil.
Our lavender crop totals more than an acre. Grown on the south terrace, the hill in front of visitor center (home to the Restaurant and Tasting Bar) and on the main driveway approaching the winery, our lavender is harvested by hand using small French lavender knives, placed into totes, and carefully delivered to Dr. Roberts. What isn’t made into high quality essential oil for sale in the Visitor Center makes its way to the bakery and on to the table of our estate restaurant. A magical pairing that can be found on the dessert menu this time of year is estate-grown raspberries in lavender syrup. Pastry Chef Tobi Sovak is also making a lavender meringue with black pepper ice cream and raspberries. Some people have detected the scent of lavender in our signature pinot noir, but that’s not because of any lavender in the wine—it’s simply the magic synergy between nature and our winemakers’ careful handling of the grapes!
The fragrant and beautiful lavender used to be considered a rare luxury. For centuries it was highly prized, a pound of its dried flowers commanding a price as high as a month’s wages for an average Roman citizen. Thankfully, this beautiful and aromatic plant is much easier to come by today. So come for a visit, and see the lavender while it’s still here. Breath deep, relax, and enjoy!