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Lavender Hill

Stone Bluff couple brings French countryside to Oklahoma

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udy Wheeler believes a woman hits her creative stride at age 50. “Every once in a while you have to

reinvent yourself,” she says. “I’m ready for a rejuvenation.” After 12 years as owner of Lavender

Hill Farm & Vineyard, the state’s largest commercial grower of lavender, Judy and her husband, Dave Wheeler, are ready for a new challenge. They recently put their property, located near Stone Bluff, Okla., in the East Central Electric Co-op service area, on the market and have been plot- ting where life will take them next. “Once you hit age 60, you feel like what-

By Lindsey Morehead

East Central Electric Co-op members Dave and Judy Wheeler are the owners of Lavender Hill Farm & Vineyard in Stone Bluff, Oklahoma.


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ever you want to get done, you need to get done,” says Judy, who’s 61. “I’ve had a lot of fun doing this. It’s been very rewarding and creative, but there are other things I’d like to do while I’m still healthy.” “We’re old and tired,” jokes Dave, 69. “It’s our retirement sale.”

La Petite Provence The fi rst time Judy saw lavender in a Paris fl ower shop, she knew she wanted to grow it in Oklahoma. “People go to France, especially women, and they want to bring lavender back; but it’s just not that easy,” she explains. Although she was certain the temperamen-

tal plant would thrive in Oklahoma’s climate, she couldn’t fi nd anyone growing it. “It seemed like a good use of our land, and it was different for Oklahoma,” she says. “I just wanted to see if I could do it.” The couple planted portions of their 100- acre farm in lavender, just like the fi elds they’d seen in the Provence region of south- ern France. They planted grapes at the same time, but they didn’t open the winery until fi ve years ago. “She’s always been a gardener, and it was something she wanted to do,” says Dave. “I

didn’t know much about it and didn’t know if it would grow or not, but as you can see, it’s been very successful.” “There were some naysayers,” says Judy. “I

was very quiet about it for the fi rst year or so until I saw the plants were going to survive.” Now, hundreds of Oklahomans make the 20-minute drive from Tulsa to walk through the couple’s lavender fi elds and buy plants of their own. The farm is planted with about 1,500 plants of the Grosso, Hidcote and Pro- vence varieties. A handful of additional vari- eties are sold in the gift shop. “It’s kind of neat because I know that all of the thousands and thousands of lavender plants I’ve sold over the years are in thou- sands of gardens all over the state of Okla- homa,” she says. “It’s kind of like a Johnny Appleseed sort of thing.” “It got bigger and bigger,” says Dave. “It’s just one of those things. We didn’t intend for it to be so successful—and we certainly didn’t intend to open a winery.”

The couple sells their private-label wine only in the property’s gift shop, which opens year-round, Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lavender fi elds begin blooming in June.

Courtesy photo

Photo by Lindsey Morehead

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