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Visiting a Lavender Distiller in Sault

Written on August 18, 2009 by mimecine

Provence, France continues to be the center of lavender production in the world and Sault one of the three primary locations in Provence.  Even so, lavender growing was only established in Provence jut prior to World War I to stem the exodous of farmers. The almond orchards were pulled out and many of the lavender fields you see today were established then, although the plants themselves are generally changed every 10 years.  Lavender has a long and quite odd history, Queen Victoria was a great fan of lavender. She went so far as appointing a “ Purvey of Lavender Essence to the Queen.” Obsessive…

In July we spent some time with the distiller who produces the lavender oil we have at Kiosk. They are a small  family operation but even so they process approximately a ton of lavender a year. The lavender comes from their own fields and three other farmers, one of which we get our lavender oil from. The process is fairly simple although not what I expected. The flowers and stem are put into what is essentially a gigantic steamer, the vapor is then trapped and sent through the distilling process, the oil in the vapor being separated along the way. The plant remains post-steaming are put into the fire which heats the entire operation. The whole place smells like a odd cross between baked goods and massive quantities of lavender. Walking away we were coated in the odor. Henri inherited the distillery from his father-in-law, he has passed it onto his son-in-law but still directs all the action. His granddaughter is working away at the counter. It is of course all very charming and lovely but being they are small producers also means they are in dire straits. It was great visiting and telling them how much people really appreciate their product at Kiosk. It made them super happy to hear their product is loved. here are some photos of the process and Henri with Marco.

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