Margery Wheaton is simply put, an amazing woman. She grew up in Pasadena including time spent on her grandparent’s farm, which today is part of Silicon Valley. Now she runs Vista Lucia Farms, an olive orchard.
Margery Wheaton Pours Heart & Soul into Olive Oil
Margery spent her early life in architectural design and traveled the world. She knew from an early age that she wanted to move out to the country and spent years finding just the right spot.
Once she found it she knew she wanted to use the land to grow something and not just enjoy the country life. She picked olives based on her earlier travels to Tuscany, Greece, Turkey and more.
Not knowing a thing about growing olives she started out by planting a few trees and quickly saw those weren’t the right variety for her. She took what she had learned, expanded a bit and planted a new variety. As those were growing she kept notes and watched carefully, noting the effects of the cold winter winds, pruning and more on her trees.
Making The Best Olive Oil
Over the years she refined the process and learned from others in the industry. She also refined her tastes for the types of olives based on what end result she wanted and that was a great taste and high level of polyphenols, which is what makes olive oil so healthy.
I arrived at Vista Lucia on a cool but sunny winter morning to a warm welcome from Margery. She had set out fruit and coffee, which was a welcome sight.
We started right away with a walking tour of the small but efficient farm, starting with the experimental trees, and then working our way through the evolution of trees that Margery planted and learned on. It was easy to see that Margery has put a lot of time, energy and focus into not just growing the trees, but learning and adapting as she went.
We made our way back up to the barn where she gave me an overview of many of the areas that she has to consider with the trees. From managing the ground squirrels and fruit flies to dealing with other diseases and pests, it’s a never-ending job.
From there Margery took a shovel and some flags and clippers and she was off out into the grove of trees, checking for areas that need trimming, checking roots and flagging trees for follow up.
What Margery Makes With Olive Oil
When the work outside was done, we made our way into the kitchen for one of the most gratifying parts of the day, a tasting! Margery had invited over a few friends and prepared a delicious lunch of chicken, fresh vegetables, cheeses, breads and melon.
She seated herself at the head of the table and started out the lesson in tasting. First we all smelled and made notes about our thoughts on a variety of plants including eucalyptus, mint, lavender and citrus.
Then we tried each of three varieties of olive oil that is made from her trees. She explained the way to taste is to place your hand on the bottom of the glass to warm it while swirling the glass. Then, take a sniff to take in the various aromas.
As we smelled I could pick out slight citrusy and fresh scents! Then we took a small amount of the oil into the front of our mouths, breathing in a little air then swirling the oil around. We all noted a spicy feeling in the back of our throat which she explained is what we want – it’s the polyphenols!
Then we moved on to trying the various oils over the chicken, veggies, bread, cheeses and most interesting of all, watermelon! The oil drizzled over the melon with a dash of sea salt was DELICIOUS!
Beautiful California Olive Oil
My day spent with another Margery, in the gorgeous hills of California’s Central coast was a beautiful one. Learning about and tasting the olive oil was interesting and enjoyable but listening to the woman who has poured her heart and soul into her farm and the products she creates was the most amazing. Margery is thoughtful and kind person and a smart, strong #FarmHer.