Dexter and Marilyn Meadows are not only united in marriage but in business too.

Love Story

The couple of 52 years grew up in a small town in Tuskegee, AL, attending the same church and high school. They would establish a steady friendship and begin dating when they attended Tuskegee Institute, now known as the Tuskegee University. By their junior year of college, the two officially tied the knot.

Upon graduating in 1972, they packed their bags and moved to the University of Michigan so Dexter could advance his education in landscape architecture.

“All we had with us was our ambition to succeed and a few hundred dollars,” Marilyn, a biology graduate with a minor in chemistry and mathematics, told AFROTECH.

Dexter would ultimately obtain another degree and land a job offer at the Forest Service in Southern California. Marilyn recalls working several jobs at the time, which included a role at a Steward Pharmaceuticals in quality assurance and as a substitute teacher in math and science at the Pasadena United School District.

Entering Into Business

They also secured a home in Altadena, CA, to support their growing family. The couple then took equity from the home to purchase other properties. Dexter’s expertise in architect and landscape, combined with his experience in construction growing up with his father, was helpful for the building process. They went on to purchase land and build apartment units, which led to the formation of Mardex LLC, their real estate development company.

From there, they would continue expanding their real estate company holdings, and the venture ultimately led the pair into a new area of business. They invested in a 40-unit property in Atlanta, GA, as they planned to move back to the Southeast. However, their plans to move never materialized as their kids were not on board. The couple owned the property for 10 years and eventually sold the property and started looking to reinvest the capital, this time in California. However wildfire season would push their search further north, bringing their attention to Oregon.

“We started looking at commercial properties, but during that time, this is about 2018, 2019, we realized that the market had changed and to reinvest that money into, say, an office building or something like that, was not gonna be healthy for us, because the commercial side, especially office buildings, had that downhill trend,” Dexter explained. “So, we started to combine some of the other lifelong objectives that we had, which included a desire to do some kind of farming. I really enjoyed farming when I was a kid, and I thought maybe I’d like to do some of that in my retirement years, and my wife really appreciates the whole notion of locating somewhere near water. So going to Oregon fit those objectives.”

Meadows Estate Vineyard and Winery

The couple would stumbled across a 100-acre property that fit their benchmarks. It also included a vineyard and winery facility, which sparked their attention and showed promise. They planned to lease out the property. However, the Meadows did not get a chance to finalize the purchase because the owners pulled out just a week before the escrow closed.

Back to the drawing board and with the help of a realtor, they discovered MarshAnne Landing Winery and decided to move forward with the purchase of the property as they were pleased with what they saw. The land included two homes that could be used for Airbnb, a winery, and a 17-acre vineyard. It would become Meadows Estate Vineyard and Winery.

“I always tell Dexter, I think that Meadows Estate was waiting for us,” Marilyn explained. “It’s a beautiful piece of property, and we immediately knew it was for us, and we purchased it. We had no problems with the purchase or anything. It was meant for us to have it. That’s the way I feel.”

Photo Credit: Meadows Estate Vineyard and Winery

Venturing into the wine sector without prior experience required the Meadows to hire a vineyard manager and winemaker to assist them. They would also enroll in a six-month wine-making course.

“The vineyard needed a lot of work. And we put a lot of effort into bringing that up to par… So, that’s what we have been spending the last three years doing, bringing the vineyard up,” Dexter said. “We hired a winemaker. She volunteered to come and help us with anything that we need or had problems with. With her help, we learned quite a bit about wine and how to take care of it in a way that you’ll actually end up with a good product. That’s been very helpful to us in terms of learning this whole industry.”

According to the company website, the vineyard offers an array of red and white wines “freshly harvested from the heart of the Oregon Umpqua Valley,” including Grenache, Syrah, Vintage Merlot, Cote Du Umpqua, Bella Vin, and Viognier, with several winning a 2023 Savor Northwest award. The selections can also be purchased online.

Tasting Room

What’s more, the property opens its tasting room Wednesday through Sunday during the hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST). Walk-ins are welcome or appointments can be scheduled. Wine tasting participants can also opt for a virtual option hosted by the estate conducted via Zoom.

“We have a variety of varietals from whites to roses to reds, and we let them taste them,” Marilyn explained. “Those that stay overnight, they get to taste as many as they want. Those that walk in, we have seven types of wines, called flights. We also have charcuteries that they can order, nice music, a deck outside that they can go out on and relax and look at the views. It’s just very relaxing. Sometimes we have live entertainment and activities for them. It’s a beautiful area to relax and enjoy with friends.”

The winery also allows visitors to cultivate their interest even further through three membership tiers.

Grape Expectations — ($105.00), which includes three bottles of wine per order and a 10% discount on all purchases; Improves With Age — ($200.00), which has six bottles of wine per order and a 15% discount on all purchases; and One Last Syrah — ($350.00) with 12 bottles of wine per order and a 20% discount on all purchases.

Additional benefits include VIP access to the tasting room, first dibs on limited releases, and access to exclusive private events and dinners. Visitors can also remain on the property through the couple’s Airbnb operations.

“Our goal would be to make Meadows a destination, a place that grows excellent grape, makes exceptional wines, and creates memorable experiences for our guests. That’s what our goal is, and hopefully we’ll be able to do all of that,” Marilyn expressed.