Sonoma’s Winter Landscape:
Vibrant Mustard Season
The much-anticipated winter Mustard Season is in full and brilliant effect in Sonoma. From adorning your Instagram feed to providing a panoply of health, culinary and viticultural benefits, this multi-faceted plant is an honored and iconic winter staple of wine country. “What is the big deal,” you ask? Below, we answer this and other commonly asked questions around this winter sensation.
What Is Mustard Grass & What Is Its Importance to Sonoma?
The mustard flower is integral — not just to the entire process of winemaking — but also the entire livelihood and prosperity of Sonoma. The wealth of natural resources Sonoma Country residents rely upon is in direct relationship with the mustard flower. The vineyards are nourished with rich soil as a result of the mustard plants, leading to abundant, delicious, and sustainable wines that attract people from all over the world.
Apart from the vineyards, mustard flowers and leaves are edible and supremely nutritious. According to Katie Hess, floral alchemist and founder of Lotus Wei: “A total superfood, mustard is loaded with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, calcium, potassium, and iron. Plus, they’re great for detoxification and fighting inflammation. Immense health benefits range from alleviating stress, insomnia muscle soreness and achy joints. It smooths the complexion, boosts the immune system and cleanses the blood of excess intake of alcohol.”
Best Places to Behold the Mustard Flowers
According to SonomaCounty.com, and vetted by MacArthur locals, here are great spots to view the vibrant yellow spread throughout local vineyards and fields.
- B.R. Cohn Winery’s iconic “mustard flower hill” turns yellow and white during spring, offering a gorgeous view during a drive down Highway 12 in Sonoma Valley. (Be sure to try a glass a Chardonnay while you’re there!)
- Gloria Ferrer Vineyards in Carneros Valley, is renowned for their sparkling wines and Spanish tapas. Stop by for a seat on their terrace overlooking mustard fields.
- The Joe Rodota Regional Trail between downtown Santa Rosa and Sebastopol borders yellow mustard fields in late winter/early spring. This 8.5-mile paved, off-road trail is ideal for cyclists and pedestrians.
- Imwalle Gardens in Santa Rosa is a local family fruit stand selling veggies and plants – and is surrounded by fields of mustard flowers. Pick up some picnic provisions at the market or flower starters for your garden.
- Drive along Tomales Road in Petaluma, you will be able to enjoy a serene countryside landscape blanketed in mustard flowers and dotted with dairy farms. Make a pit stop at Petaluma Creamery in downtown Petaluma for some Spring Hill cheese curds before you head towards the ocean.
Relax within the Wildflowers
Nestled in the heart of MacArthur Place’s fragrant gardens, The Spa at MacArthur offers “farm to spa” treatments based on the fruits, flowers and herbs grown in the property’s gardens and neighboring farms. This season, immerse yourself in the invigorating and detoxifying benefits of mustard flowers, hand-harvested from local vineyards by floral alchemist Lotus Wei.
Our signature Wildflower massage utilizes a custom elixir made from mustard flowers and local botanicals. Katie Hess, founder of Lotus Wei, touts the benefits of the mustard flower: “It is great for detoxification and fighting inflammation. Immense health benefits range from alleviating stress and insomnia to mitigating soreness and achy joints. It smooths the complexion, boosts the immune system and cleanses the blood of excess toxins.” So there you have it!
Mustard Flower Foraging and Culinary Tips
This brightly-colored yellow flower is ever-present amidst the vineyard rows in Sonoma wine country, so it’s an easy find. Every part of the mustard plant, part of the Brassicaceae family (broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts and bok choy), is edible although most primarily use its flowers which have a spicy mustard taste. They’re a beautiful garnish that add complementary texture, color and spice to many chilled dishes. (Want more foraging tips? Check our this blog.)