Tasting room escorts are trained to understand and accurately represent all the wines produced by Naked Winery.
If, however, you stroll up to the bar at the Hood River tasting room and ask for a personal testimonial, you’re likely to get a different answer every time.
As with every other server, Aspen Braniff has her favorites.
“I prefer reds, and my favorite is the Oh! Tempranillo,” says returning host.
“But when I’m not feeling like spending more than maybe I can afford at the moment, I like the Climax (red blend).”
Braniff, born and reared in Hood River, has one more year to secure her chemistry major from the University of Oregon.
Although an understanding of chemistry is critical to the wine-making craft, Aspen says her knowledge doesn’t factor much into helping guests appreciate the difference between a Vixen Syrah or a Sure Thing Symphony.
“It may help if someone wants to know about acidity,” she says.
As she did in while working at the tasting room in 2014, she is bunking with her parents and two sisters while she greets guests with a desire to get Naked.
Beyond that? Who knows.
She admits the local economy doesn’t have a huge appetite for chemistry majors, so she imagines she will tip the test tubes somewhere else.
That place better have water. She says she likes hiking, and swimming — a lot.
“I prefer to be in the water 24/7,” she says.
People who know Hood River’s reputation as a wind sports capitol might infer that Aspen is a windsurfer or kiter. Nope.
Not yet, anyway. Depends on which way the wind blows her after graduation.
Until classes resume in September, it’s all about turning her love of water into wine.