Each year, from May to September, visitors flock to the quaint city of Brenham to experience soul-refreshing oak forests, wildflowers, and breathtaking views of lavender fields.
Like Fredericksburg, Brenham is home to countless German immigrants who settled here following the German Revolution in the 1850s. Intriguing right? Learn more about the German influence on Texas cuisine by clicking here. Brenham celebrates its German culture with events like Maifest and Oktoberfest with zeal and fervour. It is a great time to be in the city and indulge in entertaining events.
Brenham is the perfect road trip stop while driving from Houston to Austin. It is precisely midway between the two cities on US 290. It is one of the best small towns to explore in Texas and deserves a place on your bucket list.
Lavender in Texas
Since lavender is not native to Texas, they have a short season that should not be missed. Unfortunately, due to the Winter Storm of February, this delicate and precarious herb is experiencing an even limited bloom period. So, to celebrate most of this beauty, Brenham is going all out with lavender festivities.
Join Chappell Hill Lavender Farm and the Windy Winery, as they hold the annual collaborative Lavender and Wine festival. It promises to be full of fun activities, grape stomping, wine tasting, artisanal lavender products and more!
TexasRealFood spoke with August and Linda Meitzen, owners of Windy Winery and Debbie and Jim McDowell of Chappell Hill Lavender Farm, about how it all started, what inspires them, and what is going on at the festival this year.
With a goal and plan, the Meitzen’s planted their first vines in 2000, but it would be another five years before they found the perfect blend of craftsmanship and hard work to open the doors at Windy Winery and sell the first bottles of their delicious and full-bodied wines. “Building something from a personal vision and passion – that’s the American way!” is the philosophy the Meitzen’s live by!
Windy Winery cultivates Blanc du Bois, Lenoir, and Champanel grapes. When asked about what their winemaking style is, Linda and August said, “We are passionate about creating new and unique wine combinations that delight the senses. We thrive on being bold and innovative, and it shows in the products.”
Here are other tidbits from our conversation.
TRF: What is one of your favorite varietals to work with and why?
WW: Blanc du Bois because it is the best wine to blend.
TRF: Any winemaking tips for those just getting into winemaking?
WW: One thing I would say to someone wanting to get into the winemaking business is to keep an open mind and not get discouraged. Try, try, again!
TRF: Do you have a favorite wine or vintage that you have made?
WW: This is a hard question! If we had to choose, it would be our dry blanc du bois, but we have several new varieties coming this fall, so this may change.
TRF: In your opinion, what distinguishes Texan wines?
WW: Good question! Because it is simply the best! It is also worth remembering that when you buy Texas wine, you help the Texas wine industry.
TRF: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Texas wine industry?
WW: Advertising. We don’t have the advertising dollars like other wine industries. We need more backing and support for promoting our wine.
TRF: Can you tell us something about the Annual Lavender and Wine Festival? What can visitors expect to experience at the Fest?
WW: The Annual Lavender and Wine Festival is a Countryside festival hosted by Chappell Hill Lavender Farm and Windy Winery. At the Windy Winery, our guests will be able to taste our wines, especially Lady Lavender. Experience a grape stomp, shop our handmade gifts, and enjoy some food and live music!
The other participating farm in this event is the Chappell Hill Lavender Farm. Drive along the Texas Independence Trail from Chappell Hill to Brenham to get to this picturesque farm. The farm looks gorgeous when the lavender plants bloom, and the hillside exudes a heavenly fragrance.
Here are some snippets of our conversations with the McDowells:
TRF: How did you decide that you wanted to cultivate lavender in Texas?
CHLF: We had no intention of growing lavender, but when we moved to the land in 2000, it was so beautiful with the rolling hills and gorgeous landscape, we wanted to do something special with our property. At the time, there were only a couple of lavender farms in Texas up in the Hill Country. So we made a trip to one of those farms and purchased 20 plants and planted them. They actually did quite well, so from that time on, we increased by 600 plants each spring and fall season until we had around 4000 plants in the ground.
The farm began to grow, and I (Debbie) began to educate myself on the benefits of lavender and started making our aromatherapy products on site. Our gift shop began to expand as we added more and more bath & body products, and other local artisans also have added their unique products to the gift shop to sell.
TRF: What types of lavender do you grow at the farm?
CHLF: We primarily grow two types of lavender on the farm; Provence and Sweet. Both are incredibly fragrant. Over the past 4-5 years, we have added fruit trees and berries so that our guests have more things to pick when in season. Additionally, we added our three miniature goats, Fonzie, Oreo and Moonshine. The children love to feed hay to them!
TRF: What would you say is the biggest challenge when cultivating lavender in Texas?
CHLF: The biggest challenge is the wet climate and humidity. Lavender prefers a dry arid climate with about 14″ to 15″ per year. However, we typically get 30″ to 40″ of rain annually, plus an average of 90% humidity, so you can understand the issues we face. Then the freeze this past February took out the Sweet variety, and the excessive rain that followed, hit the Provence variety hard. However, we do plan to replant most of our fields this fall.
TRF: What is the one lesser-known fact about lavender that you can share with our readers?
CHLF: Well, many people who visit the farm do not know how lavender elevates food experiences. In our gift shop, we sample several lavender-infused food items. Our lavender lemonade, lavender ice cream, lavender cookies, are the most loved items. Another fact is that lavender is an excellent mosquito repellent. We also make our chemical-free mosquito spray on site. It’s one of our best sellers!
TRF: What can visitors expect on the 14th of August at the Annual Lavender and Wine Festival?
CHLF: The lavender farm will have live music, local craft vendors with handmade items, lavender food, lavender plants for sale, miniature horses for pictures and petting, and flower pounding demonstrations. Those activities are primarily from 10-noon. At the Windy Winery, they will also have live music, grape stomp and wine tastings. (Wine is only served at the winery and not at the lavender farm).
While you are in the area, you will want to check out the little town of Chappell Hill. There are wonderful shops to explore, a winery and home cooking to enjoy! NOTE – $1 parking per car at the lavender farm.
So, there you have it! The Lavender and Wine Festival this year will run from 9:00-3:00 on the 14th of August. So mark your calendars and turn up at Brenham with your family and friends for this refreshing, vibrant summer day. Visit this page to know more. You can also get in contact with Debbie at 979-525-5979.
Are you looking for more lavender farms near you? Here are some of the best purple-hued fields in Texas!