Brief turn in the legal trenches sent Nick West in search of something less

Nick West, buffin' those guns with bottles from Naked Winery.
Nick West, buffin’ those guns with brawny bottles from Naked Winery.

OK, ladies, relax: Nick West has a girlfriend.

Yep, Betty White.

Nope, not THAT Betty White. The love of his life is a German shepherd-beagle-greyhound mix.

“I totally love dogs,” West says. “Every dog I see, I’ve got to stop and give it some love.”

A recent addition to the Hood River tasting room crew, West is reveling in the fun atmosphere of working with Naked Winery’s guests.

With a law degree from the University of Colorado, West spent most of the last three years in an atmosphere of tension and conflict.

Working as a public defender, representing people accused of crimes but lacking the resources to hire their own counsel, put him in the midst of people who were not enjoying life as much as people who pop into Naked Winery for a sip of chardonnay.

“I’m a fun-loving person,” he says. “I love to make people smile.

“But I’m taking a break. That time with the public defender definitely overdid it.”

He may go back into law, after his batteries recharge. For now, pouring wine is just fine.

“Everyone here at Naked Winery is in a great mood, here to have a good time,” he says.

Landing in Hood River is something of a homecoming. West spent part of his youth in the Hood River valley, but dove into the wider world with a stint in the Army, then political science studies at the University of Central Florida.

After fleeing the Colorado law job for a legal gig in Southern California, West realized that his life needed a reboot. The people, the traffic, the stress, it all added up to zero.

“I thought, Why am I doing this? So I can say I’m a lawyer?” West recalls.

An uncle who lives south of Hood River kept offering West a place to stay. “He finally convinced me,” West says.

A camper and hiker, West — and Betty White — have found their happy place.

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