A visit to a lavender farm in Maui, Hawaii, on a 10th-anniversary vacation became the spark of inspiration for Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery’s new lavender field and related product line.
At the time of the anniversary trip, Petoskey Farms co-founders Tracie and Andy Roush were looking for a new career, one that would fit with their plans to move Up North from metro Detroit. When they saw the Maui lavender farm, they almost changed their minds.
“For a moment, we thought, ‘Wow, can you imagine if we bought this place and lived in Maui and ran this lavender farm?’” Tracie Roush says.
But the couple didn’t want to move their young children too far away from their grandparents in Michigan. So, instead, they started a winery in Petoskey.
A few years later — the Maui lavender farm still in mind — they planted a lavender field on the property to add to the views of rolling countryside.
“Our lavender field started as a beautification project in 2019, where we planted hundreds of plants,” Roush says. “And people really liked that we were doing that and started to ask, ‘What are you going to do [with the lavender]?’ and we said, ‘Well, we have lots of great ideas. For now, it’s going to adorn your hills so that you can enjoy the sights of it and the aromas that come out of a lavender field.’”
Petoskey Farms has expanded the field every year since. After this year’s 500 new plants are added, the field will have 2,000 total lavender plants. The Petoskey Farms team has planted several varietals — including varietals suited for culinary use and essential oils — to maximize the range of products they can offer.
The first lavender harvest took place in summer 2021. Soon after, the winery began to sell bundles of lavender.
“Our customers loved that — that they could take home a bottle of wine and a very unique gift in a bundle of lavender. And who wouldn’t want to receive a bundle of lavender, you know?” Roush says, adding that lavender not only looks and smells beautiful but can also be calming.
Since then, the winery has added lavender sachets, lavender and grapevine wreaths, and lavender centerpieces in cider glasses (which also feature in the tasting room!) to its offerings. Before the first harvest, Petoskey Farms also released a lavender ginger hard cider, which was inspired by — but not made from — the lavender. That beverage has become the winery’s bestselling hard cider.
In addition to the lavender products, winery visitors also enjoy walking through the field, which is “just a stone’s throw away” from the winery’s patio, Roush says.
“People want to go down there all the time and take photos, and so it became a photo opportunity as well,” she says. “You see moms with little kids letting them just pose in their dresses and take pictures, and everyone asks, ‘Can we go down to the lavender?’”
Roush marvels at how far the lavender field has come since it was planted and looks forward to its bright future.
“We planted in 2019, three years ago, and we’ve been able to see that customers really love it,” Roush says. “We’ve been able to expand the product line a little bit, but there’s so much opportunity with this product, and we’re so excited to get into products that customers want — not just anything, but what are they asking for?”
And without that one trip to Hawaii, none of this would have happened, she notes.
“It was all because we walked through a lavender farm in Maui, Hawaii!”