By Patricia Kutza
As a sheer sensory experience there is nothing quite like the sights, smells and sounds of a vineyard. Increasingly winery owners understand that, whether they do so for culinary, ornamental or educational reasons, adding a garden to their property enhances the whole visitor experience. Here are just a few of these gardens that are becoming important destinations in themselves:
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens
These gardens, located in the lush vineyards of Northern California’s Sonoma County, have become the gold standard for showcasing the important relationships between wine and food. Originally created in 1997, the gardens really took off in new directions three years ago when Tucker Taylor, the culinary gardener also responsible for the creation of the legendary French Laundry Restaurant garden, came onboard.
Seven distinct garden spaces on 2.5 acres offer visitors a wide range of experiences. From gardens planted solely for their eye-popping beauty to the culinary spaces that inform the Food & Wine pairings created especially for Kendall-Jackson special events, to the red and white wine sensory gardens, these plantings will pique a wide range of interests.
And for sheer immersion, there’s nothing like enjoying wine and food pairings smack-dab in the gardens as 300 people do each year in Kendall-Jackson’s popular farm-to-table events.
Reif Estate Wine Sensory Gardens
At the Reif Estate, heritage takes center stage and its gardens are designed to complement and
reflect the history of its 1870s Coach House. This Niagara-on-the-Lake winery devotes a lot of attention to showing how gardens, like wine, are the sum of their parts – helping guests understand the similarities and differences between color, texture and aroma. Its gardens feature plantings representative of the color, flavors and aromas of grapes typically used in producing Ontario wines.
Varieties such as Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc have their own dedicated garden spaces where a wide variety of perennials and annuals can be seen. Open daily through October, visitors to the gardens can also enjoy wines by the glass and cheese plates, local charcuterie and gelato.
Terhune Orchards and Winery
For wine lovers who want to have a layered experience, Terhune fills the bill. This working farm, located in central New Jersey, also boasts a vineyard and winery, pick-your-own garden and farm store. Depending on what’s in season, visitors to the expansive gardens can pick berries, flowers, apples, pumpkins and other produce. Terhune’s vineyard yields 12 varieties of dry, off-dry, semi-sweet and fruit wines.
Becker Vineyards, Lavender Garden
It’s all about lavender at this Texas Hill Country winery and vineyards – 4,000 plants, to be exact. And during the blooming season (April to May), visitors can stroll through the rows or just admire the stunning lavender display from Becker’s pavilion, all while enjoying Becker’s signature wines, cheese and charcuterie. In its tasting room the homage to this popular herb continues with a large selection of lavender-inspired products that includes handmade soaps, eye pillows, lotions, sachet and candles.
Becker caps off the season with its Lavender Festival where guests can get tips on cooking with lavender as well as growing it. Wine tasting, live music, art displays and a vintner’s luncheon round out this annual event.
ThornCreek Winery and Gardens
Guests may plan on visiting the Northern Ohio-based winery for its award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, but they may leave with some unexpected learnings. Thorn Creek features extensive gardens and offers a design service that specializes in garden design, installation, and pruning techniques. Their gardens, with thousands of plantings, also do double duty as backdrops for spaces that can be rented for such occasions as weddings, receptions and corporate events.