Black-owned Meadow Winery and Vineyard
An hour inland from the Oregon coast, in the hills of the Umpqua Valley, two retired Tuskegee natives bought an old winery and opened their doors during the pandemic. In the picturesque setting of Cascade Mountain RangeDexter and Marilyn Meadows produce a multitude of wines in Meadows Estate Vineyard and Wineryincluding pinot noir, syrah, grenache and merlot.
Formerly known as MarshAnne Landing Winery, the property is open to the public during tasting hours and can also be rented out for events. The Meadows have had the vineyard for three years now — the first of which was dedicated to getting the 14 acres of vineyard back into shape, Dexter said. In the years that followed, however, the winery doubled the crop production.
The couple had no previous experience working in a winery. “When we bought the place, we had inventory and we didn’t know what to do with it,” Dexter said. “We had a winemaker and she gave me and my wife a crash course in wine making.”
In the spirit of entrepreneurship, the couple restored the five-bedroom farmhouse on the property for rent through AirBnb. Dexter, who holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Michigan State University, explained that this property is the largest in the area at 4,500 square feet, making it the perfect place to sleep a large group of friends – up to 14 people, Dexter said. .
The local community has been really supportive of the Meadows in their efforts to restore the winery and bring business to the area, Dexter said, explaining that the townspeople have been an invaluable resource. “This community has been very helpful in getting us set up: all kinds of help, answering questions and sorting out harvesting issues,” he said.
Three of the Meadows wines have won awards this year Los Angeles Invitational Wine & Spirits Challenge, including Double Gold and Best of Class for the 2017 Grenache. The grape varieties, traditionally grown in the Rhône and Bordeaux, thrive in the region’s long growing season. “We still have a lot of work to do to make it even better than it is,” Dexter said.
The trip to Oregon
Buying property in Oregon was never the Meadows’ original plan. During his architectural career, Dexter designed residential buildings in Pasadena and worked as a landscape architect at the Forest Service in San Dimas, California.
The couple raised a son and a daughter in Southern California. Like many mothers, Marilyn wore a few hats during those years. She has taken on many roles, including lab technician, homemaker, and substitute teacher in the school system.
Even before they embraced their retirement, the couple worked on building their portfolios by investing in real estate, even though they already owned several properties in Southern California. Most of the properties they own in this area are apartment buildings designed by Dexter himself.
While preparing to purchase their next property, the couple wanted to stay in California where Dexter could go back to his roots and get his hands dirty in the ground. The pair cruised in search of farm property as California continued to burn, pushing the pair’s gazes north until they landed in Oregon.
“I told my wife I wanted to play in the mud while I retired,” said Dexter, who retired in 2015. “My childhood background and my teenage years were farming.”
From Tuskegee to California
At first, Dexter and Marilyn wanted to return to the East Coast for their retirement and made several investments in the state of Georgia in order to be closer to home. But it became clear that returning was not in the cards for most of the family. Dexter said his wife was the one who ultimately pulled the trigger. “Our kids were in California and they were clearly not going back to Tuskegee,” he said.
Today, Dexter and Marilyn divide their time between California and the Meadows Estate Vineyard and Winery in Oregon. Their two children have a certain interest in the winery, so the property could stay in the family and continue to be operated by generations of Meadows for years to come.