/ The Houston Guide
Houston — By Christina Uticone on August 7, 2010 at 3:56 pm
Filed under: festival, top-feature, weekend trips, wine

Chappell Hill Lavender Festival: Rest and Relaxation

What do you get when you combine a weekend of wine tasting with a lavender festival and a cozy bed-and-breakfast, all nestled in historic Washington County, Texas?  A recipe for romance, complete with herbs and spices.

When you think about farming in Texas the first thing that pops into your mind probably isn’t “lavender”.  Beef, maybe even cotton or corn, but lavender?  Well it’s true, and it’s happening just a couple of hours outside of Houston at Chappel Hill Lavender Farm.  Lavender harvest season begins in August, and to celebrate Chappell Hill is holding its 5th Annual Lavender Festival on August 14th, from 9 AM – 3 PM in conjunction with the Bluebonnet House and Garden Center, and Windy Winery.  What a wonderful opportunity to get out of the city and relax in the countryside.

Lavender has been used medicinally by many societies, and for thousands of years.  It has antiseptic properties and also soothes minor skin irritations.  Lavender has been used by many cultures for a variety of purposes: Egyptians used it in embalming and Romans used lavender to scent bath water, while Greeks burned lavender for aromatherapuetic purposes.  During World War II lavender was used as a disinfectant in hospitals and today we use lavender to scent candles, soaps, as well as in cooking such as in herbes de Provence.

The Festival

Chappell Hill Lavender Farm

Chappell Hill Lavender Farm is located at 2250 Dillard Rd. in Brenham (map),   located about half-way between Houston and Austin.  This scenic Washington County spot can be a pit stop on your way between the two cities, or it can be your destination to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.  Whether you’re looking for a low-key day trip or a full weekend of R & R in the country, the Lavender Festival provides the perfect excuse to step out of your fast-paced every day life and relax.  After all, relaxation is one of the most-touted natural properties of lavender!

The Lavender Festival festivities are free to the public and include the opportunity to gather your own fresh lavender as well as enjoy foods made with fresh lavender.  Live musical entertainment will be provided, and you can purchase handmade lavender gifts at the farm’s on-site gift shop.  (They take online orders, too!)  You can purchase pure lavender oil, bath and body products, and a variety of lavender-scented products for your home; I’m eyeing the alcohol-free room spray.

If you can’t make it out to Chappell Hill Lavender Farm for the festival, you can visit them on a weekend you are free.  The farm and gift shop are open Saturdays from 9 AM – 5 PM and Sundays from 11 AM – 5 PM.  If you have questions, or wish to schedule a group tour, call the farm at 979.251.8114.  Admission to the farm is always free.  Lavender is usually in bloom in spring from April to May and again in the late summer, early fall from August to October, and cutting/harvesting is $5 per bunch.

Bluebonnet House and Garden Center

Bees visiting the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet.

The Bluebonnet House and Garden Center is also participating in the Lavender Festival and you can find them at 5095 Main St. in Chappell Hill (map).  Heaven for souvenir-seekers and home gardeners, you will discover any number of treasures for your home and garden at the Bluebonnet House.  In addition to plants and garden accessories, take a peek at their beautiful selection of hand-made linens and and intricately-sewn quilts.  Along with many Texas-themed items, they of course have many sweet items that depict the Texas state flower – the bluebonnet.

If you wish to visit the Bluebonnet House another time, they do have seasonal hours.  Their current hours are Thursday through Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM.  After September 15th they will return to their regular-season hours of 10 AM – 5 PM, seven days a week.

Windy Winery

wine, tasting, vino, winery

Wine 1.0

Now for my favorite part of the Chappell Hill Lavender Festival – the wine!  Windy Winery is located at 4232 Clover Road in Brenham (map).  Their wine list is enticing, with a nice variety of whites and reds with a good dry-to-sweet range, and I am especially intrigued by their “Tejas Port” – who knew there was even such a thing as Texan Port?!  The winery is going all-out for the Lavender Festival, adding a hay ride, live music, food and wine tastings and a grape-stomping competition

If you want to visit the Windy Winery, which is part of the greater Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail, you will find them open Friday – Saturday from 11 AM – 5 PM and on Sundays from 1 PM – 5 PM.

Accommodations

To make a weekend out of your trip to Chappell Hill you need a place to stay.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Southern Rose Ranch: Small, intimate, and slightly more expensive than other area B&Bs, the Southern Rose Ranch will give you what you pay for in both luxury and the little details that can make your stay so memorable.  Spa robes, an outdoor stone kitchen (with a spa), plus wireless, DishTV and DVD in each room.  They also serve breakfast in your suite, which is separate from the main house; much more private and intimate than your average bed & breakfast.  Rooms $170-$185/night (double occupancy, add $35 per person).  No smoking, no pets, no children under 12.  Southern Rose Ranch is located at 8580 Dairy Farm Road in Chappell Hill (map).
  • Ingleside Bed and Breakfast: Located at 409 East Main Street (map) near downtown Brenham, you can enjoy a more traditional bed and breakfast experience for $111-$159 per room.  All rooms come with cable and wireless internet, and Ingleside offers upgrade packages with treats like massages and champagne.  No smoking (except on porch or in the garden), no pets, no children under 12.

Area Attractions

To round out your weekend visit a few of these other special stops in the area, or bring  your bicycles and enjoy the great outdoors along country roads and quaint village roads.

  • Blue Bell Creamery: Texans eat Blue Bell ice cream and so should you!  I can personally attest to this top-quality ice cream; since moving to Texas it’s the only thing we keep in the freezer.  Summer tours (June 7-August 20) are only offered during the week, Monday-Friday 8:30 AM-3 PM, so I say this alone is a good reason to start your Lavender Festival weekend early!  1101 South Blue Bell Road in Brenham (map).
  • Washington on the Brazos State Park: “The Birthplace of Texas” (map) offers public tours of the Star of the Republic Museum, Barrington Living History Farm, and Independence Hall where Texas’ Declaration of Independence was signed.  The museum is open daily, 10 AM-5 PM; $5 for adults, $3 students/children; kids under 6 are free.  Farm tours (self-guided) are open Monday-Friday from 10 AM – 5 PM; $5 for adults, $3 students/children; kids under 6 are free.  Weekend tours of Independence Hall leave from the Visitors’ Center and are offered at 11 AM, 1 PM, 2 pm, and 3 PM; $5 for adults, $3 students/children; kids under 6 are free.  If you wish to visit one or more of these sites, there is a “Brazos Pass” available – $9 for adults, $6 students, $27 for families (2 adults and up to 5 children); this pass is good for unlimited admission for one day.
  • Burton Cotton Gin and Museum: The oldest operating cotton gin in the country is located at 307 North Main Street in Burton (map).  The museum is open for general admission Tuesday-Saturday; you can visit, view a short educational video, and visit the gift shop free from 10 AM-4 PM.  If you want to take a tour of the cotton gin they are offered Tuesday-Saturday at 10 AM and 2 PM; $6 for adults, $4 for students, and children under 5 are free.

Photo credit: SXC (1), 2 & 3 from the personal collection of Christina Uticone and Joshua Payne

Related places:
  1. A
    2250 Dillard Rd
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  2. B
    Bluebonnet House
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  3. C
    Windy Winery
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  4. D
    Southern Rose Ranch Bed & Breakfast
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  5. E
    Ingleside Bed & Breakfast
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  6. F
    Blue Bell Creameries LP
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  7. G
    Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park
    View Details and Book
  8. H
    Burton Cotton Gin & Museum
    View Details and Book
Tags: festival, top-feature, weekend trips, wine


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