Roses, lavender and vines...
Beautiful roses and lavender are now blooming everywhere in the valley. And in my garden low, white roses grow next to tall clinging red ones with lavender in between. The scents in the evening air are magical.
We have roses at the end of the vine rows next to our Tasting Room. It's a beautiful frame for our outdoor tasting patio. But did you know there's also a historical reason for planting them by the rows of grapes? Both roses and vines are susceptible to powdery mildew. So in older days they grew roses next to the vines. If the roses got infected then the vines were infected too and you needed to start treating them. Today we have much more refined ways to tell if there is risk for mildew. We monitor the vines, roots, leaves and grapes as well as the soil, and we get long range weather forecasts warning for wet weather so we can take precautions. We act before the vines get infected. Viticulture is obviously not just watching the roses grow. But with a rosebush at the end of each row, you can at least stop and smell the roses every now and then.
Roses are also used, as well as lavender, for medicinal purposes. Rose water is made from rose petals and used as a skin toner and is claimed to have a calming influence. It sure smells nice! Rose hips hold a lot of vitamin C, and they make a great tea. Just pour boiling water over the rosehips and steep for 10 minutes. Use one tablespoon of fresh or dried rose hips per cup of hot water. You can also add a tablespoon fresh mint leaves or a teaspoon dried mint for a refreshing taste.
Lavender is related to rosemary, sage and thyme. Lavender tea can be made in the same way by adding a teaspoon lavender and a teaspoon mint leaves per cup of water. You can also use lavender stems on top of fish, pork or lamb when you grill just as you would use fresh rosemary. Or you can mix lavender flowers with sage, thyme, salt and pepper and rub it in as a crust on ham or salmon. Let it sit for a while before roasting it in the oven. Bon appétit!