SEQUIM — Ginger Wierzbanowski said lavender drew her and her husband Scott to visit the area 10 years ago, and after spending some time here, the locals’ friendliness made them feel like they belonged.
Now the couple — both retired Air Force lieutenant colonels and corporate leaders — have opened Olympic Bluffs Cidery and Lavender Farm at 1025 Finn Hall Road in Agnew.
It is one of the new farms on the Sequim Lavender Weekend tour this year. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Sunday.
Regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Labor Day Weekend.
Operated out of a new barn building, the couple offers 30-plus handmade lavender products using nine different varieties of lavender from their 4,000-plus plants on property.
“There’s 16 acres that can be enjoyed here,” Scott said.
That includes U-cut lavender and plenty of chairs and spaces to relax.
“We were living a completely different life in Arlington, Va., and never had this amount of land,” he said. “Here, we’re living with cycles and seasons now.”
Through their work researching lavender, cider and grains, they’ve found area farms and cideries are quite collaborative. They’ve been consulting with Victor Gonzalez of Victor’s Lavender Farm for a few years; the couple ordered plants in January 2021 from him and planted them that spring and summer.
The couple jokes about the massive effort it took to plant lavender.
“We thought we could get it done in a couple weeks,” Scott said.
“It took the whole summer,” Ginger added.
With help from local experts, the couple has taken a do-it-yourself attitude by learning to drive tractors, build fences, plant and care for lavender and trees, distill lavender and enroll in courses at Peninsula College to learn about beekeeping.
Now, the couple is ready to take on visitors and locals alike for the first time as a stop on the Lavender Weekend circuit.
East of the lavender fields and lavender barn is a cidery building where the couple hopes to begin production this fall.
Their journey to loving cider began in France as Ginger and Scott served as interpreters for the 60th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2004, in Normandy.
Later during the trip, they tasted different apples and wines. Scott made his own cider back home and they loved it.
“We were inspired by our experiences in France and thought one day we’d open up a cidery,” Ginger said.
While considering the cidery in January 2019, they thought about adding lavender, too.
Scott said they planted the trees and lavender at the same time in 2021 and it just happened that lavender became available first.
The cidery part is waiting for a water hookup to clean machinery, he said, and that likely will be installed by the end of the summer.
They’ll make cider from 20 different apples on semi-dwarf trees, and the couple said they hope to produce between 6,000 and 8,000 gallons annually in three to four years.
On Oct. 14, they’re planning to do another cider press event; last year’s event saw about 200 people visit, Scott said.
Together, the cidery and lavender meet their two goals, Scott said, “to make great cider and bring the community together.”
For the second season, the couple is partnering with Washington State University’s Breadlab, researchers looking to develop better tasting, healthier, affordable bread.
The Wierzbanowskis planted ancient grains in front of their property last year and have about one-third rye, one-third hard wheat, and one-third soft wheat, Scott said. They can be used in different baked goods such as bread and pastries.
Last year they harvested about 500 pounds of grain, and they offer a mill inside the lavender barn.
If the grain is not milled, Scott said, it’ll last a long time and can be milled later on. This fall, they plan to plant an acre of winter wheat and rye.
How they met
The Wierzbanowskis have two adult children, ages 24 and 23. Ginger was born in Tacoma and moved full-time to southeast Alaska at age 12 because her dad was a bush pilot. Scott said that, as a “military brat,” he moved all over the country.
They met in the Republic of Korea and married in 1997 in Denmark. They were stationed together for all but two years when he was in France and she was in Belgium.
The Wierzbanowskis later retired as lieutenant colonels with Scott a pilot and Ginger an intelligence officer.
She later retired as vice president, Intelligence Solutions Business Unit, for Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Scott as a program manager for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
For more about the farm, visit olympicbluffscidery.com.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at email@example.com.