Our story begins in Sacramento, California well before the first modern-day vines were planted in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
In Sacramento, the Myers family; parents Tucson and Lonnie, and sons Mark and Joel, lived across the street from another young couple, Charles and Shirley Coury and their two boys, Brad and Charley. Charles was studying Enology and Viticulture at nearby UC Davis, and at the time was finishing his Masters thesis on growing Pinot noir in cool climates in the Western United States. Through the Courys, the Myers met other young students in the UC Davis program; Werner Koblet and David Lett.
In the mid-sixties Joel's father accepted a position with the State of Oregon and moved his family to Silverton. Both Coury and Lett had moved north and were carving vineyards out of orchards, pastures and blackberry patches that covered the hills in the north Willamette Valley. The Myers family frequently visited the Courys and Letts maintaining their friendship.
Growing up in Silverton, Joel worked on farms since age 10. One of his first jobs was to help the Letts plant and trellis their vineyards in the Dundee Hills in 1968. Through high school and college, Joel was actively involved in farming, working mainly for the large grass seed and grain growers in the area. Joel took a semester off from college in 1976 to visit vineyards, research stations, and wineries in Germany, Austria and Yugoslavia with Charley Coury.
In the summer of 1979 Joel graduated from University of Oregon with a degree in Geography and Environmental Science. After searching for a job with the Forest Service, he accepted what he thought would be a temporary harvest position in the vineyard at Eyrie. Soon after, he was offered a full time vineyard-cellar manager position.
Joel met Louise Bernards, a teacher and artist from a local farm family, who was working for the Letts as well. They were married in 1981 and together they traveled to Switzerland, where Joel worked with Dr. Werner Koblet. At the time, Koblet was one of Europe's leading researchers in vine physiology and management. Working with Koblet and other Swiss winegrowers, Joel developed his base knowledge in vine physiology, disease control, integrated production, and clonal studies. Coupled with his comprehensive background in traditional farming, he returned with a new interest and vision for the potential of Oregon viticulture.
In 1984 Joel and Louise founded Vinetenders and began a life of vineyard management in Oregon. Vinetenders currently manages around 200 acres of prime vineyard property in the north Willamette Valley. They carry on that tradition together with sons Joey, John & David.