Flying Outdoor Winos to chase world record at Flugtag 2015

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Rough design of the launch vehicle and wing assembly for the Flying Outdoor Winos entry in Flugtag 2015, Aug. 1, in Portland.

When pigs — and narwhals, beer cans, pterodactyls, pugs and God-knows-whats — decide to fly, the boys and girls of Outdoor Wino will be there to join them.

Mark your calendars for Aug. 1, 2015, when four pushers from the Flying Outdoor Winos launch pilot Alaina Waller into the air above the Willamette River — and hope she and her aero-foil don’t drop like a stone.

Thousands of spectators are sure to be on hand for the 2015 edition of Red Bull’s Flugtag event. It all goes up — and down — at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, near the Riverplace development.

“We’re going for flight distance over creativity,” says Waller, Naked’s assistant winemaker.

Waller got Naked Winery — and its Outdoor Wino brand — interested in entering when she learned last year that Flugtag was returning to Portland after previous visits in 2004 and 2008.

She posed the idea of an Outdoor Wino entry, and as befits the Naked ethos, a team of fun-loving, adventurous, outdoorsy thrill-seekers quickly coalesced.

Club Naked colleagues Lara Friesen and Chris Garvey recruited warehouse hero Cale Rice and winery friend Asit Rathod to make the dream come true.

Garvey, who manages club activities out of our McMinnville store, has been leading construction efforts.

“It’s being built all over, in Portland, McMinnville, we work on it where we can,” Garvey says.

He offered a high-five to Jason Reed, who works next to the McMinnville tasting room at Oregon Stationers, for letting Outdoor Wino’s team share tools and a cooperative woodworking space.

Each of the 45 Flugtag teams — selected from over 500 entries — strives for a mix of creativity, flight distance and showmanship. Judges select winners based on all three factors.

Waller is hoping to go the distance. Four costumed team members push a cart bearing the glider and pilot off the lip of a platform 28 feet above the water. The goal is for the glider to glide. The best effort ever, by the Chicken Whisperers in 2013, landed 258 feet from launch.

“We can always shoot for 259,” Waller says. “I just don’t want to nose dive.”

She’ll only get one chance to find out. Because these are craft designed to land on the forgiving surface of water, practice flights aren’t logical or advisable.

Take a look at the blooper reel, and you can see why. More than a few entrants collapse at the base of the launch platform.

Because of the inherent risks, the event and its organizers put a premium on safety.

“There’s so much risk management,” Waller says. “They inspect all the designs, and if you nose dive, the pilot has to be able to push themselves away.”

Garvey is confident that the Outdoor Wino entry will prevail. He’s done his homework.

“It’s an air foil patterned after a design that is supposed to give low speed and high loft,” Garvey says. “I read everything I could on designing wings, and watched untold hours of video. No shit, I read so much I feel like I could build an airplane right now.”

He and Rathod consulted people who have actual aeronautical engineering talent.

“Everybody we have talked to has offered small tweaks,” Garvey says.

The rules limit flying rigs to 28 feet wide, 20 feet long, 10 feet high and no more than 400 pounds with the pilot included.

Waller is going to wear a wine bottle costume, and the Outdoor Wino pushers will wear grape cluster costumes prepared by Club Naked member Melissa Dye.

Waller says each team gets 30 seconds to perform a skit — against the backdrop of Rhymefest singing “Build Me Up Buttercup” — then 30 seconds to launch its aircraft.

“I can’t be nervous,” Waller says. “I think they’ll have enough energy drink on hand to keep me from being nervous.”

Really? Event managers allow no drinking by competitors before launch, but when it comes to blunting nerves, a can of Red Bull is the last thing we reach for, and Outdoor Vino the first.

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If  you want to follow the progress of the Outdoor Wino entry, check out the photo trail on its Facebook page.

Deep farm, family roots lure Ewald back to Naked Winery tasting room

Lindsey Ewald is in her first year of taking visitors to the Hood River tasting room on  tours of wines from Naked Winery.
Lindsey Ewald is in her first year of taking visitors to the Hood River tasting room on tours of wines from Naked Winery.

Lindsey Ewald’s roots run deep in the Hood River Valley, so it figures that she — for now, at least — would find her way home after rambles that took her briefly to the farthest corner of the Pacific Ocean.

Now in her first year behind the bar of Naked Winery’s Hood River tasting room, Lindsey is glad to be juggling wine-pouring duties with time helping her fourth-generation fruit-growing family and running a business making party cakes of all sizes.

After Ewald earned her college degree in communications from Arizona State — where she was a member of the waterski team — she and a friend took a break to teach English in the Kingdom of Tonga in the southern Pacific Ocean.

Distance makes the heart grow lonely.

“It was good for the time that I was there, but I wanted to get back,” she says.

Her time away from the valley included a brief stint at Oregon State University, where she met James Nygren, a pitcher with the Beavers’ stellar baseball squad.

Now, while Lindsey plucks pears, pours pinot noir and bakes cup and wedding cakes, Nygren toils with the pitching corps for the New Orleans Zephyrs triple-A ball club.

For the last three years, she has operated Frosted, making cupcakes and larger treats for weddings, birthday parties and baby showers.

She says it’s difficult with her boyfriend living so far away, but plans a trip south this summer to watch the Zephyrs play. She brings a much different appreciation to the game than she once did.

“I was never much of a baseball fan,” she says.

“But now I know more about pitching than I ever thought I would.”

Haggen Northwest stores in Bend, Eugene spread local love to Naked Winery

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As consumers turn to hand-made products from fields and people who live next door, growing numbers of retailers are embracing that “local” ethic.

Michael Conner, store manager for Haggen’s NW Fresh at 1800 N.E. Third St. in Bend, recently wrapped his arms around a mountain of love from Naked Winery, for the people who have come to know what they like, and like what they know, and like to get Naked.

Check the end-cap above — Climax Red Blend, Foreplay Chardonnay, Naked Cabernet, Tease Riesling, Vixen Syrah, plus Outdoor Vino Picnic Table Pink, Rambling Red and Wanderlust White — and you might think that Conner appreciates synergy.

At Naked Winery, we appreciate his appreciation. With a tasting room at the Old Mill District in Bend, we introduce wine lovers daily to the world of wine — Naked Winery, yes, but more than that, the variety and range of tastes to be explored and appreciated in the world of wine.

Conner gets that.

“I had tried some wines from Naked Winery,” he says. “The big tipping point for us bringing it in was that you guys are a local company. I know you have a good following and a fun marketing tactic.

“And with the spot at the Old Mill District, it’s important to help people find your wine.”
He said Haggen is consciously trying to pursue a local purchasing and stocking ethic, as it expands its brand to take over for Albertson’s in the wake of Safeway’s acquisition.

“We’re trying to make sure we get local distributors in here,” he says. “We have plenty of breweries and local bread. We’re just trying to get a strong local emphasis.”

More to the fun of things, Conner said he told Melissa DosPassos, our Central Oregon outside sales rep, how excited he was to get Naked.

Then he caught himself.

“No no no,” he said he told her. “I meant how excited I was to get wines from Naked Winery in Haggen.”

Not as excited as DosPassos, who recently stocked Bend’s other Haggen store at 61155 S. Highway 97 with three cases each of Outdoor Vino Wanderlust White, Outdoor Vino Rambling Red, Outdoor Vino Picnic Table Pink, Fling Riesling, Naked Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Gris.

The excitement is apparently spreading. Naked Winery sales manager Carrie Coffin reports that the Haggen Northwest store in Eugene just stocked four cases each of Naked Foreplay, Naked Pinot Gris and Naked Pinot Noir.

We love the support because, for you wine-loving fans of Naked Winery, it means our wines are never far from your glass.

Heat is coming … get a seat on the Deschutes, drink Naked and relax

Hard to beat those Central Oregon sunsets while watching a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.
Hard to beat those Central Oregon sunsets while watching a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.

Just a reminder, Naked Winery is again a sponsor this summer of the Bend Concert series at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

At this writing, you still have plenty of options to put your hot weather self on cruise control.

Tix are available for Sheryl Crow (July 6), Death Cab for Cutie (July 9), Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (July 12), Pink Martini (July 25), Wilco (Aug. 8), Michael Franti & Spearhead (Aug. 23), Weird Al Yankovic (Sept. 4), and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals (Sept. 6).

Take a tour of the lineup here, and hop on board the banks of the Deschutes River, with a glass of wine from Naked Winery and your mind on mellow.

Add your smile to these, when you attend a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.
Add your smile to these, when you attend a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.

Love of water sports brings photog Myrdal to Oregon, Mt. Hood and Naked Winery’s walls

Grant Myrdal and some of the photographs on show at the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River.
Grant Myrdal and some of the photographs on show at the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River.

If you find yourself staring at the gorgeous photography on the walls of the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River, and find yourself wondering how someone decides to become a surf photographer, let alone make a living at it, here’s how Grant Myrdal carved his path to paradise.

Born and reared in South Africa, Myrdal spent much of his youth surfing the famous Jeffreys Bay break.

Life isn’t all about fun, however, and when reality called, Myrdal completed a master’s degree in urban planning, and actually held down a desk doing that work for just shy of five years.

“When I was 26, my wife Michal and I met,” Myrdal recalls. “I always wanted to follow the ‘Endless Summer,’ get on the road and go surfing around the world. My plan was to do that for two years, then come back to my urban planning job.

“It never happened.”

The “coming back” part, that is. The trip took them in directions they’d never imagined.

They spent six years traveling from beach to beach, reloading the bank account just enough when the money ran out.

Michal loves horses, and landed a steedy gig in New York. It became their base for nine years, while they waited for residency permits in the heightened security environment post-9/11.

“But that kick-started my photography,” Myrdal says.

He had learned to snowboard in Utah, loved photography, and figured he could parlay those passions with his love of surfing to build a business. He couldn’t leave the country, but he could travel to Hawaii, which he did, bobbing in the waves as the world’s best performed for his lens.

After 12 years of bouncing back and forth between New York and Hawaii, Myrdal secured a green card.

“I had an affinity for the West Coast, and I wanted to move back here, but I didn’t want to go back to California — it is so crowded,” Myrdal recalls.

“A friend of my wife was living in Bend. She was a horse person, too. She knew I would love the mountains. So we bit the bullet and moved there without having visited Oregon before.”

Three years after their 2005 move, Myrdal got an invitation to photograph a family reunion on Mt. Hood. As it happens, the family included Matthew Drake, CEO of Mt. Hood Meadows, who appreciated Myrdal’s work and enlisted him to provide on-slope photo services during ski season.

Six years on, Myrdal’s snow photography has grown, complement the last three summers by a focus on wind sports in and around Hood River.

“You get to meet everyone,” he says of his slope-side imaging. “I just love it. Getting down to the river reminds me of all the shiny waters, the boards, the speed from my surfing days. I actually love shooting all that stuff on the river.”

Surfing itself has taken a bit of a back seat, as other activities have drawn Myrdal’s focus. He still gets down to the coast in the fall, when bigger surf hits the West Coast, but when winter waves hit Hawaii, he’s up in the Mt. Hood snow.

Myrdal says photography gives him a thrill almost the equal of his favorite thrill sports.

“I love shooting the stuff; it’s very exciting,” he says. “It’s almost as exciting as doing it yourself. I get sucked into it through the lens. I get such a thrill out of shooting.”

Myrdal loves the direction life has taken him and his wife.

“My wife has started a tack shop,” he says. “She has five horses. Most are rescues. She  takes them in, gives them a lot of love for a year, then tries to find them a good home.”

He loves the casual friendliness of Oregonians, too.

“Especially coming from New York,” he says. “I’m happy.”

* * *

Myrdal’s work will be on display at the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River through the end of August.

Divorce rate drops as Naked Winery sales rise. We’re crushin’ it!

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If you’ve been around Naked Winery for very long, you know “We aim to tease!” and have a mission to cut America’s divorce rate in half by encouraging couples to connect nightly over a glass of wine.

It’s one thing to have a mission. It’s another thing to put the mission to the test: Is it working?

So we thought we’d do a little data dig. Data from the Oregon Health Authority shows a flat line on the divorce activity up to a spike in 2010 (probably stress from the Great Recession), followed by a reversion to norm and, actually, a downward trend in the last few years.

We compared divorce and marriage trends with trends for sales at Naked Winery since 2006, its first year with any sales to speak of.

From the graph above, you can see two things:

  • As Naked Winery has sold more wine, the divorce rate has gone down.
  • As Naked Winery has sold more wine, the marriage rate has gone up.

YESSSSSSS!!!! We’re winning! Drink more wine from Naked Winery!