Lovely Lavender

Get ready to celebrate this alluring Hill Country treasure

By Julie Catalano :: Photography courtesy of Becker Vineyards

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Lavender. Just the word is soothing. What is it about this herb with its calming scent and pleasing hue that brings feelings of comfort and joy to those who see it, smell it, wear it, eat it and drink it? Whatever its many charms are, Texans can’t seem to get enough of it.

For starters, lavender is among the world’s most versatile folk remedies, often considered good for almost everything that ails you, from anxiety to whooping cough. In addition, it works and plays well with others — pairing beautifully with a host of herbs, oils and essences like cedarwood, clove, clary sage, lime and rose hips, to name a few. It’s a staple at farmer’s markets, where area lavender farms display their aromatic wares of lavender teas, tinctures, essential oils and other purpley treats.

Best of all, lavender is the centerpiece of two annual spring parties where aficionados can revel in all things lavender, getting up close and personal with this superstar herb.

At Becker Vineyards, located between Fredericksburg and Stonewall, owners Richard and Bunny Becker oversee a splendid winery with award-winning wines that have garnered national acclaim since 1992. The compound includes 46 acres of estate fruit and lavender along with Stonewall peach orchards.

For almost two decades, Becker’s wines have shared the spotlight with the lavender fields that surround the property — the result of a journey to the Rhone River Valley of Provence where the Beckers first fell in love with the endless rows of lavender in the French countryside. After years of searching for the best varieties that could withstand the volatile Texas weather cycle of heat, droughts and floods, they settled exclusively on the Stoechas (Spanish) variety to recreate their long-ago vision of a Texas-grown lavender farm.

“The lavender we grow likes a hot, dry climate similar to Provence,” explains Nichole Bendele, public relations manager at Becker Vineyards. “Lavender likes a well-draining sandy loam soil.” This, she adds, “is what makes the Hill Country a great place for it. But if you are in an area which is hot and dry with well-draining soil, you can grow it.”

Visitors can enjoy the view of the lavender fields behind the spacious and impressive tasting room, especially during the blooming season of April and May, strolling the grounds or relaxing on the pavilion with wine, cheese and charcuterie. The Lavender Shop is part of the majestic tasting room, with shelves of aromatic offerings such as therapy creams, soy candles, handmade soaps, room sprays, linen sprays and much more. An online customer favorite is the Lavender Gift Basket with shower gel, lotion, lip balm, grapeseed scrub and culinary lavender with recipe card.

18th Annual Becker Vineyards Lavender Fest, April 30-May 1

This year, the vineyards are readying for the 18th Annual Becker Vineyards Lavender Fest on April 30-May 1, where lavender lovers will enjoy cooking demonstrations, winery tours, wine tasting, live music, vendors with lavender and other herb-related products, and more than 30 artisans with gardening-themed crafts for sale. Lavender Luncheons are available, says Bendele, “but if you can’t make those, there will be food concessions.” Educational speakers will give lavender gardening tips and other informational talks. The event is free and open to the public, with a nominal parking fee.

As usual, Mother Nature is in charge of exactly what festival-goers will see in the fields. “Hopefully the lavender will be blooming at that time,” says Bendele. “It did last year and it was so very exciting to see the plant that you’re celebrating in full bloom at the festival.”

12th Annual Blanco Lavender Festival, June 10-12

The Texas lavender lovefest continues at the 12th Annual Blanco Lavender Festival on June 10-12. Blanco, known as the Lavender Capital of Texas®, is located 45 miles north of San Antonio and 45 miles west of Austin, with a lavender blooming season of May through July.

The Festival Market features a collection of vendors and artists on the grounds of the historic Old Blanco County Courthouse. Local and regional lavender farms set up booths selling their own products and plants on the town square, along with creations by Texas artists and craftspeople. At the courthouse, speakers give informational talks on the seemingly endless uses of lavender in cooking, aromatherapy, gardening and more. There’s live music, food concessions and free farm tours to nearby lavender farms.

 

For information on lavender festivals: 
Becker Vineyards, www.beckervineyards.com
Blanco Chamber of Commerce, www.blancochamber.com
General lavender information: 
Texas Lavender Association, www.texaslavenderassociation.org

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