Matanzas Creek Winery
The gardens at Matanzas Creek are situated amid hilly terrain in Sonoma County, California. Washed over in luminous hues, the setting combines an elegant naturalism and robust verdure,
where majestic native oaks tower over extravagant plantings.
Landscaping was undertaken in 1990 by former owners and founders, Sandra and Bill MacIver. Sandra's early years in New Orleans were unique; her grandmother Edith Rosenwald Stern the doyenne of the acclaimed estate, Longue Vue House and Gardens. Undoubtedly that tantalizing realm planted the seed for the MacIvers' Sonoma garden.
It's difficult not to be swept away by the heady perfume of lavender that greets you during a June visit. Some 4,500 plants Grow on staggered terraces, the cultivated varieties 'Grosso' and 'Provence.' The distinctive hues and textures create diagonal patterns, leading you on a gradual ascent up the steps of a central path toward the winery's main building.
Precise angles and planes of a rectangular water garden provide a refreshing contrast to the lavish plantings. Specimens include Cyperus papyrus, with its airy terminals, and giant scouring rush, a California native.
Drifts of swaying grasses like the tall purple moor grass, which produces blooming spikes from June through December, soften the hillsides and walkways, alike.
Masses of perennials thrive under Sonoma's bright skies, in a design first conceived by landscape designer Gary Ratway (of Digging Dog Nursery). Gary is also acknowledged for his contributions to the restoration of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
In addition to compositions filled with ornamental grasses and pungent herbs, the gardens feature selections of ornamental vines, shrubs and unusual trees. Parrotia persica boasts medleys of amethyst & lemon-lime leaves in spring, shifting to shimmering golds and reds in the fall.
Eloquently described in the winery's garden tour booklet, the governing philosophy at Matanzas Creek is one of "designing to reduce design."
It's readily apparent throughout the grounds, but perhaps the most striking examples are boulders weighing 21,000 pounds. Set in place near a stairway, these massive forms look as if they have been there forever.
Every year the winery hosts a celebratory event before the lavender harvest. www.matanzascreek.com/