Geneva Anderson digs into art

Matanzas Creek Winery’s 15th Annual Days of Wine and Lavender kicks off this Saturday, June 25, 2011

Matanzas Creek Winery’s 15th Annual “Days of Wine and Lavender" is this Saturday, June 25, 2011. Photo: Matanzas Creek Winery

Ask any gardener around Sonoma County and you’ll find that lavender is an herb that is universally praised—its fragrance evokes a Zen-like calm and its deep purple hues are treasured in the garden and home.  And that luscious scent has spilled over into flavoring as well–culinary lavender has rapidly become a staple for Northern California gourmets.  This Saturday, at Matanzas Creek Winery’s 15th Annual Days of Wine and Lavender, you’ll get to stroll the winery’s breathtaking lavender garden in full fragrant bloom and sample all things lavender– from artisan breads dusted with lavender flour to lavender teas to Matanzas’ rejuvenating Estate Lavender  line.  This popular event always sells out early and draws a crowd of 400 from all over California for a leisurely and relaxing summer afternoon in the Bennett Valley hills.  Designed in 1991 by landscaper extraordinaire Robert Kourik, with 5,000 impeccably cultivated plants; this is the largest planting of lavender in northern, CA.  It’s surrounded by a border of exotic trees, shrubs and tall grasses and the overall impact is reminiscent of the enclosed secret gardens of classical Europe. 

There will be ample opportunity to taste delicacies featuring edible lavender prepared by Matanzas Creek chefs Justin Wanglerand Eric Frischkorn and their culinary team.  Justin Wangler assures me that there is a “subtle difference” between various culinary cultivars that fine palates can distinguish.  “Lavandula x Intermedia,” commonly named “Grosso,” is a strong and vigorous hybrid, grown on the Matanzas grounds that was developed in France in the early 18oo’s for its heightened oil content.  It yields a robust purple violet bloom and produces one of the highest quality culinary grade lavenders to be found and is favored by the culinary team.  

Delicacies on Saturday’s menu will be prepared with lavender salt rubs, highly concentrated lavender oil and dried lavender.   The menu (subject to change) includes: Lavender Coconut Ceviche, Lavender Poached Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce Crab Claws, Whole Roasted Lavender Chicken, Israeli Couscous with Oranges, Green Olives, Lavender and Mint, Kobe Beef Sandwiches with Lavender Red Wine Dijonaise, Sweet Potato Tots with Lavender Salt, Lavender

Chef Eric Frischkorn will be baking and serving his fabulous artisan breads this Saturday at Matanzas Creek Winery’s 15th Annual “Days of Wine and Lavender.” Photo: Geneva Anderson.

Cheesecake with Blueberries.  These dishes will also be served with complementary Matanzas Creek wines including Matanzas Creek 2010 Helena Bench Sauvignon Blanc from Knights Valley, 2010 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and several library wines (well-aged older vintages).

Chef Eric Frischkorn will also be serving his popular homemade artisan breads featuring lavender.  Frischkorn has created a unique wild yeast starter dough from yeast collected on the vineyard’s grapes and Saturday’s sourdough bread will come from this starter.   

 Event Highlights Include:

  • The Tim Hockenberry Blues Band: They will get you movin’ and groovin’ under the oaks.
  • Photographer Marlene Smith:  a professional photographer who will take a portrait of you against the spectacular backdrop of the lavender fields to remember your day at Matanzas Creek Winery.
  • Marin French Cheese: Enjoy hand-crafted Artisan soft-ripened cheese paired with Matanzas Creek wines.
  • Desserts:  gourmet sweets paired with Matanzas’ new release of their dessert wine, Dénouement.
  • Bocce Ball Courts: Guests can try their hand at “Lavender Ball” in the Bocce Ball Courts by the Lavender Barn.
  • Open Air Jeep Tours:  tours to the neighboring Jackson Park Vineyards featuring a spectacular view of the lower winery, vineyards and gardens.
  • Local Artists: Sonoma County Artists who specialize in photographing or painting lavender fields and vineyards in Bennett Valley will have works on display. Chalk artist Robin Burgert will create a colored chalk artwork on the parking lot blacktop.
  • short complimentary hand and shoulder massages utilizing Estate Lavender products 
  • The Lavender Barn will be open with Estate Lavender culinary items, lotions, soaps, massage oils and much more available for purchase. And this is not your ordinary lavender spa line–of course, there’s a pure lavender scent from the finest essential oil.  Several lavender products have also been blended with ingredients like tangerine, neroli and rose to create modern invigorating scents.   There’s also a men’s line that features a handmade soap with a spicy earthy lavender-infused scent that’s worth stocking up on.  

On-going Lavender Education Series:  Matanzas Creek hopes to inspire wine and garden lovers with a series of quarterly educational seminars on growing and using lavender.  All classes are held at 9 a.m. and include a wine-tasting and lunch.  Cost is $75 per person, or $55 for 55 for Custom Crush wine club members.  Upcoming seminars:

Matanzas Creek Winery's Lavender Garden features some 5,000 plants. Terraced rows of the lavender cultivars "Grosso" and "Provence" line the entrance to the winery. Photo: courtesy Matanzas Creek Winery.

July 19, 2011 “Explore the Wonders of Honeybees”:  This seminar will delve into the busy life of the honeybee. Local natural honey purveyor Marshall’s Farm will join us for an in-depth look at beekeeping and a demonstration of how to make lavender-infused honey.   This is a hands-on course.

Sept. 20, 2011 “Cooking with Culinary Lavender”:   Matanzas Creek’s culinary team will teach attendees how to incorporate culinary lavender into every-day cooking.  This is a hands-on course.

Nov. 8, 2011 “Making Lavender Gifts for the Holiday”:  This workshop will show participants how to make a lavender sachet, holiday potpourri and a lavender rock salt warmer.  This is a hands-on course.

 Details: Saturday June 25th, noon to 4 p.m. Tickets: $75 General Public and $60 Custom Crush members.  Matanzas Creek Winery is located at 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA  95404.  Phone: 800 590-6464

 The winery is known for its crisp sauvignon blancs, luxurious chardonnays and fruity, earthy merlots.  To learn more, visit .

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bouquets to Art 2011 launches Monday with a Spanish theme to celebrate Balenciaga–at San Francisco’s de Young Museum through March 19, 2011


For the next five days starting Monday, March 14, Bouquets to Art will transform the De Young Museum into a fragrant extravaganza of floral arrangements inspired by art.  Now in its 27th year, Bouquets to Art is the museum’s biggest fundraiser and one of the country’s leading floral events.  Floral designers from all over the world, but mainly from the greater Bay Area, organize their loveliest and most exotic blooms into creative arrangements that respond to works in the museum’s permanent collection.   It all launches this Monday evening with a festive opening night preview party in Wilsey Court.  In addition to a sneak preview of 150 intoxicatingly fresh floral arrangements, there will be a lavish Spanish buffet by McCall Associates, hosted bars, and live music provided by a Spanish guitar trio.

Organized by the San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums, this year’s show celebrates the highly anticipated Balenciaga and Spain exhibition that opens March 26 and runs through July 4, 2011.  Balenciaga and Spain at the de Young, curated by Hamish Bowles, European editor at large for Vogue, is the first exhibition to examine the impact of Spain’s culture, history and art on one of its greatest artists, couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga.  The exhibition will showcase approximately 120 ensembles, many of them generously lent from the Balenciaga Archives as the result of an unprecedented collaboration.  The accessories and photographs together will provide a complete picture of Balenciaga’s creativity and sources of inspiration.

Local participants in this year’s Bouquets to Art include Catherine Scott of Catherine Scott Flowers (Sonoma), Josette Brose-Eichar of Lavender (Sonoma),  Pat Friday Flowers (St. Helena) and Natasha Jacobsen, Flowers by Natasha (Gualala).The show is complimented by a series of daily lectures by noted Bay Area, national and international floral designers and special luncheons and high teas. 

“This is a chance to be whimsical and sculptural with floral designs,” said Pat Friday, owner of Pat Friday Flowers, St. Helena, who has been a participant in Bouquets to Art for 18 years.  “It’s a real celebration of other designers in Northern, CA too and a chance to see some exceptional work.”  Along with Rachael Riser, senior floral designer, Friday is creating a floral moonscape  to correspond to two black and white photographs of the moon—one is from the late 1800’s and was taken by telescope and the other is a NASA photograph taken from the surface of the moon.  Their moonscape incorporates a variety of cacti, succulents, hyacinths, chrysanthemums, brunia, agonis, exculayptus pods, ranunculus, dusty miller, silver tree, baby’s breath, and craspedia.  The work is in Gallery 12.

“We got excited about what could be on the surface of the moon in more whimsical and fun way and looked for things that weren’t captured in those photos,” said Rachael Riser.  “There’s a dark side and a light side and a few little surprises.” 

Bouquets to Art 2011 Schedule of Events:

Monday, March 14
6:30–9:30 pm: Opening Night Preview Party, featuring floral exhibits, lavish buffet by
McCall Associates, hosted bars and live music by a Spanish guitar trio.

Tuesday, March 15
9:30 am–5:15 pm: Floral exhibits, luncheons and afternoon teas
10 am: Lecture by J. Keith White, Houston-based floral designer
1:30 pm: Lecture by Reverend William McMillan, Belfast-based floral designer

Wednesday, March 16
9:30 am–5:15 pm: Floral exhibits, luncheons and afternoon teas
10 am: Lecture by Shane Connolly, London-based floral designer
1:30 pm: Flora Grubb and Susie Nadler, San Francisco floral designers
6–8 pm: The Fine Arts Museums members-only evening

Thursday, March 17
9:30 am–5:15 pm: Floral exhibits, luncheons and afternoon teas
10 am: Lecture by Soho Sakai, East Bay floral designer
1:30 pm: Lecture by Kate Berry, New York City-based floral designer

Friday, March 18
9:30 am–8:45 pm: Floral exhibits

Saturday, March 19
9:30 am–5:15 pm: Floral exhibits, benefit drawing

Bouquets to Art 2011 Ticketing
General admission allows access to all floral exhibits and special exhibition galleries. Advance general admission tickets may be purchased up to 24 hours prior to your visit either online or in person at the museum box office.  Day-of-visit general admission ticket purchases include an additional $5 surcharge.  Adult tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, senior 65+ tickets are $17 in advance and $22 at the door, youth 6–17 tickets are $16 in advance and $21 at the door and children 5 and under are free.  FAMSF members receive free admission and do not need to make advance reservations for general admission.  Member tickets may be picked up at the membership desk on the day of the visit.  Advance tickets are required for the opening night preview party, luncheons, lectures and afternoon teas. For more information and to order tickets, go to

 Bouquets to Art 2011 Hours

Tuesday through Saturday, March 15-19, 2011, from 9:30 AM to 5:15 PM

Extended hours Friday, March 18, 2011, until 8:45 PM

Museum members-only night on Wednesday, March 16, from 6 to 8 PM

 Visiting the de Young:
Address: Golden Gate Park 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive San Francisco, CA 94118
Parking: street parking is free for 3 hours within the park and there is a paid parking garage that is adjoined to the deYoung Museum.

March 13, 2011 Posted by | Art, de Young Museum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment