Flying Outdoor Winos to chase world record at Flugtag 2015

flug design
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.

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

ChartGo

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!

Exertion and isolation lure people from all walks — for the long walk

Soggy, chilly weather has finally eased, so Appalachian Trail  hikers Barb Prescott and Gleb Velikanov can enjoy spring weather.
Soggy, chilly weather has finally eased, so Appalachian Trail hikers Barb Prescott and Gleb Velikanov can enjoy spring weather.

We hope you’ve been following reports from our intrepid buds, Gleb Velikanov and Barb Prescott, as they hike north along the Appalachian Trail. As they advance, we are making sure they get a portable supply of Outdoor Vino wine at each provisioning stop.

Here’s the latest update from Barb, who goes by the trail name “Whisper.”

I am a Standing Baba no more (see earlier post to understand this reference)! After a month of hiking on the Appalachian trail, I have developed “trail legs”, the ability to hike long, 20-mile or longer days, consistently, without much pain or discomfort. 

By now, a lot of hikers are a few hundred miles along the trail. On our way to the town of Damascus, Virginia, 469 miles into it, we’ve gotten to know a few folks. As a first time thru-hiker, I am fascinated and wonder often why people do this because it is quite physically challenging and painful and can start becoming mentally taxing — some might even consider it a form of suffering. Whether it is for healing, repaying some karmic debt, religious reasons or trying to make sense or find the answer to some big life question, people are out here doing it!

Pilgrimages have existed for thousands of years all over the world: there’s the El Camino de Santiago in Spain, a European trail with Catholic pilgrimage roots, or the Ganges River, which runs from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal and gets about 20 million visits a year, with people believing that anyone who touches these waters will be cleansed of all their sins. There is also the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. In short, all of these pilgrimages involve people trying to experience a higher awareness, transformation and attaining a new degree of wisdom.

Something similar to transformation, seeking wisdom or just a different perspective on life can be heard in the stories of the thru-hikers we have met so far.

There is 19-year old “Snail,” who had four years paid for at Ole’ Miss and quit after two because he wasn’t sure he was going in the right direction and needed some time to reset. “Snail” is unusually mature for a 19-year-old, is growing his first beard, and hiked his first 20-miler with us!

Then there is 50-something year old “Wannabe” and his 17-year old son “Boots.” “Wannabe” lost his much younger sister to leukemia only a short year ago and was deeply affected. He thought that there was no better time to hike the trail and connect with his son before he goes off to college. The two of them are doing great and are on pace to finish the trail in under five months.

Another gentleman is in his 70’s and hiking the trail to raise money for his younger brother suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease. So far he has raised about $100 a mile! Wow!

We have also met men and women that have taken a vow of silence for part or all of the trail, a couple trying to figure out where in the world they would like to live next, people transitioning from one career to the next, single men or women recovering from a divorce or a partner’s death, and even just the ones that want to party on the trail.

What moves and encourages the human spirit is what I find truly amazing and inspiring, and whatever their reason, that everyone is finding answers, one step at a time moving north to Maine!

Since my last e-mail Gleb and I hiked through the 70-something mile Great Smoky Mountain stretch of the AT, where we also reached the highest point on the Appalachian Trail, Clingman’s Dome at 6,643 feet. Sadly, it was like looking into a gallon of whole milk the whole time and we did not get to see any of the great views we had been promised.

Enjoying a glass of Outdoor Vino Wanderlust White, Barb Prescott takes a break from her hiking.
Enjoying a glass of Outdoor Vino Wanderlust White, Barb Prescott takes a break from her hiking.

One afternoon, just as we were wrapping up with our lunch break, a large, dark, four-legged animal bolted across the trail directly in front of us. The dark creature had a smaller, light brown creature in tow. Both Gleb and I instantly froze. I could hear my heart beat in my ears and feel the thumping in my temples. A bear,. we thought.

But, based on the color of the baby and the distinctive porcine squeal let out by the mom, we realized that it was a wild hog sow with a piglet. Oink! It was a beautiful sight and when talking to other hikers, it sounded like we may have been the only two lucky enough to see any animals.

The weather through the Smokies and after started to take a slight toll on our spirits. The constant rain, hail, howling winds, freezing temperatures, snow and thunderstorms left us feeling wet, cold and slightly exhausted. A friend from the East Coast wrote me and said, “When the ground shakes and you can smell the ozone, you know you have a good one” and that would have been hilarious had it not been constant. (It’s actually really hilarious ).

After about a two-week stretch of rain, it finally lifted and it was like we were in a new place. Everything had changed. Where there were once no leaves and everything was brown and bare, everything was bright green and covered with foliage. Flowers and trees bloomed, insects chirped, and the sun felt so warm on our skin. Hiking felt completely different. Just like the forest was alive, we felt alive with all of the new energy surrounding us.

We took a quick break in Hot Springs, N.C., where we rested our feet, had some meals with a couple of Germans we met on the trail, drank a couple of beers, wrote post cards and got a crazy amount of sleep. Did you know that mac and cheese is considered a vegetable here, hehe?!

Back on the trail we decided to hike close to 200 miles before taking our next “zero” day, where we are now in Damascus, Virginia. The trail seems to be getting a bit easier and I feel like there aren’t as many steep ups and downs, but I may just be used to all of it now ;)!

We also have finally nailed down our food/hunger situation. We buy fresh avocados in town and bring them with us as healthy fats. We also have found preservative-free cream cheese, which helps keep us full, and a special thank you to my mom for sending a huge quantity of coconut oil and making us homemade granola/oatmeal that we rehydrate and eat in the mornings! Yummy!

Today we will celebrate our day of rest, reaching our fourth (!) and longest state, one month on the trail, being one quarter of the way done and me taking one more trip around the sun! Happy day!

Missing and thinking of everyone,

Whisper

Wine Locker makes gaining access to our wine a puzzling challenge

Cory Williamson sure would like some Wanderlust White -- if only she could remove the Wine Locker.
Cory Williamson sure would like some Wanderlust White — if only she could remove the Wine Locker.

Harley Colwell lives closer to Portland, Maine, than Portland, Ore., but a recent search for the perfect companion led him virtually to Naked Winery’s world headquarters in Hood River, Ore.

Before you get the wrong idea, let’s be clear – Harley is happily married.

He and his wife, Deanna, operate a small business they call Hardee Crafts, in Windsor, Maine. They make and sell distinctive — and challenging — games and puzzles.

Harley had recently completed design and construction of a novel device to secure a wine bottle from easy access. He was looking for a companion product that would show off the utility of his invention – a safe, empty wine bottle, to be precise.

He didn’t want an ordinary glass wine bottle. He and Deanna take his ingenious creations on a busy schedule of craft fairs, where eager customers might accidentally drop a glass bottle on the floor.

Or, if they got too frustrated trying to figure out how to remove the Wine Locker, they might decide that dropping the bottle on the floor was the quickest and surest way to remove what we at Naked have come to call “the chastity bolt.”

The Colwells hooked up by e-mail and phone with our ace customer service rep, Cory Williamson.

What led the Colwells to Cory was the discovery that we use a plastic bottle for our Outdoor Vino wines. Light, simple and unlikely to shatter if dropped on a concrete floor.

Perfect, in short, to demonstrate the puzzling inaccessibility of the Wine Locker.

At Naked, we’re fine with corks and screw caps. We just draw the line at permanent – or difficult – closures, such as the Wine Locker that Harley invented. When it’s time to get into the bottle, we want in, now if not sooner.

But we were so intrigued with Harley’s Wine Locker, we had to learn more.

Harley retired in 2005 from a career as a physics teacher.

He says the Wine Locker is one of three puzzles he developed this year.  It didn’t happen easily.

“That design was in the works for years,” he says. “I kept trying different things. I’d give up for awhile, then try something else. There were probably a dozen failed attempts.”

He had seen other wine security devices, “all based on string technology.” He knows a gentleman who makes those, and thought out of fairness, he would take a different route, to a mechanical device using wood and bolts.

“He had the basic idea, and then it was refining it,” Deanna says.

“I kept working and working on it,” Harley says. “Finally I got the combination this year that worked out.”

He says someone who figures it out can remove the Wine Locker in about a minute.

That would not – yet – include the crew at Naked Winery. Harley has promised to send the removal instructions to Williamson, once she cries “uncle.”

Harley says the mental landscape that can comprehend physics helps prepare someone such as himself to imagine and build puzzles.

“For puzzle lovers, it’s not the physics behind it, but it’s the ability to turn things around in your head,” Harley says.

Well, good job, Harley. Your Wine Locker has turned our heads around — and tied them in a knot.

Could  you send us the number for that other puzzle guy, the one who works with string?

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Forward motion for hikers spurs reflections on suffering and gain

Barb Prescott and Gleb Velikanov button up against humid Appalachian weather.
Barb Prescott and Gleb Velikanov button up against humid Appalachian weather.

As readers of The Naked Truth must know by now, Naked Winery and Outdoor Vino are helping fuel the efforts of Portland residents Gleb Velikanov and his partner Barb Prescott to hike the legendary Appalachian Trail. We got a great note from Barb the other day, and offer it for your enjoyment (slightly edited for style) below:

“I’m currently reading a great non-fiction  book written by Gregory David Roberts called “Shantaram,” In it he spends a day visiting the Standing Babas — a group of men who have taken a vow never to sit or lie down, ever again.

As you can imagine, all of that downward pressure causes terrible, unending pain and because of this, the Standing Babas never stand still — they kind of sway from side to side from foot to foot. Roberts writes: “The first five to ten years of that constant standing, their legs begin to swell. The blood moves sluggishly in exhausted veins, and muscles thickened. Their legs became huge, bloated out of recognizable shape, and covered with purple varicose boils. Their toes squeezed out from thick, fleshy feet, like the toes of elephants. During the following years, their legs gradually become thinner, and thinner. Eventually, only bones remained, with a paint-thin veneer of skin and termite trails of withered veins…” 

Gleb takes care of Barb’s aching feet.

Ouch. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to something so horribly painful? They do it to prepare themselves for the next level of incarnation or to reach some spiritual enlightenment, I suppose.

What I am getting at is that I am beginning to feel like one of these Standing Babas, or almost, maybe a little ;). My legs and feet are constantly aching, they are swollen, and I currently have a discolored toenail. But, as with the Standing Babas, my feet are also getting used to the torture of walking and stronger with each hill. All jokes and drama aside, Gleb and I are getting used to hiking and I can almost say that we may have earned our “trail legs.”

We are currently taking a “zero” (non-hiking day) in Fontana Dam, North Carolina, where we are trying to load our bellies full of fresh fruit and veggies — something that’s been hard to find on the trail out here. I dream about beet and goat cheese salads, tomato and fresh mozzarella, fresh juicy carrots and, for some reason, Brussels sprouts. Mmmm.

Tomorrow (April 17) we will keep heading north into the the Great Smoky Mountains and hitting the 200-mile mark in the next day or two as well.
The last week has brought us a lot of rain and more rain. It’s a totally different kind of wet, though — not only is everything soaked, but the air is incredibly humid. I never knew that my eyelids could sweat like this ;)! Luckily we have been able to avoid the rain most nights by making it to a shelter.

Barb and German hiker Engel share a love of chocolate.

 

One morning we woke up to find that a German fellow (Engel) had camped next to us the night before. He grabbed my hand and nearly jumped into our tent with excitement when he realized I understood him. Apparently, he hadn’t spoken to anyone in nearly two weeks because he doesn’t speak a lick of English, hahaha. He chatted feverishly and was talking so fast that I was actually having a hard time understanding him.

We decided we liked Engel and hiked with him all day, and Gleb had a great time practicing his German. At the end of the day, Engel gave us his last German chocolate candy bar, which Gleb and I saved until we hit the 100 mile mark!

We have hiked with two ladies that are hiking with their dachshund and little Pomeranian, stayed in a shelter with a family of five, the youngest being nine. They are also through-hikers (going the entire distance, south to north) and (we) even (met) a woman that lives right down the street from us in PDX. What a small world!

Trail life is amazing and so cleansing — our toughest decision at the end of a long day is figuring out which one of us gets the first foot rub (me) and who will get water from a nearby stream. Gleb is extremely patient and I can tell he is totally in his happy place out here.

Sometimes we hear an occasional gunshot and we are reminded we are still in the south!

Until next time!
Yours,
Barb “Whisper” (her trail name)

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For Portland ultra-hikers, next challenge will get fuel boost from Outdoor Vino

Gleb Velikanov and Barb Prescott atop south Sister.
Gleb Velikanov and Barb Prescott atop south Sister.

As the old saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss, and neither does Gleb Velikanov.

Not that Gleb is a stone. Or has anything against gathering moss. Or that he even comes close to rolling across the landscape.

But like that proverbial stone, this Naked Winery fan is sort of a perpetual motion machine. You would have to be, too, if you wanted to cover as much ground, for the pure fun of it, as Gleb has, does and will.

Next up, starting April 4, Gleb, 35, and his partner, Barbara Prescott, 27, fly from their home in Portland, Ore., to Georgia, and begin hiking about 2,100 miles north along the classic Appalachian Trail.

In keeping with Naked Winery’s spirit of helping other people walk long distances, our Bend club manager, Chris Garvey, arranged to provide regular drop shipments of Outdoor Vino to Gleb and Barb.

Gleb has some experience at what the insiders calls “through hiking.” He spent four months in 2010 hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs roughly 2,600 miles.

“That time, I was solo,” he says. “I started at the Mexico border and went to Manning Provincial Park in Canada.”

Hoofing that far, Gleb has no interest in strapping an RV to his back. He is an exponent of “ultra-light backpacking,” which means the pack weighs around 20 pounds, depending on how much trail mix he has hoovered on any given day.

Adding a couple of bottles of Rambling Red or Wanderlust White to their packs might force them to jettison excess weight, but who needs a tent, anyway?

Not Gleb. He’s got places to go, people to see. Also a fan of ultra-marathon running, he did 56 miles during a South African event in 2007.

“The way I usually put it is that I use running as way to train for ultra-light backpacking,” he says. “The longest I’ve ever done on foot in one stretch was 60 miles, the last day on the PCT.”

It only took him 26 hours, starting at 5 a.m. one day, finishing at 7 a.m. the next day. Just in time for a day of flogging himself with barbed wire (remember Frankie and Willie on Saturday Night Live ? Boy, they coulda used some Outdoor Vino) .

Gleb, a writer and adventure tour operator, has been ultra-marathoning for 10 years. Barb took it up three years ago. Earlier this year, she did her first run of 50 kilometers (about 31 miles, which makes it a bit shorter to do it that way. Just kidding. We can act stupid around Blogging Central, but not THAT stupid.).

To augment their trail work, Gleb and Barb lift weights and do Pilates and yoga for core strength.

Gleb met Naked’s guy Garvey at the Sportsman Show in Portland. Garvey mentioned his New England upbringing, Gleb mentioned the hike, and symbiosis happened.

“We started talking about Outdoor Vino,” Gleb recalls. “We adhere to the ‘leave no trace’ ethic. Outdoor Vino bottles are light, and I can use them as a water bottle.”

Gleb cites writer Bill Bryson, author of “A Walk in the Woods,” as an inspiration to hike the ATC, and chronicle their exploits online.

Gleb is all prepped up to beam reports of their hike via Instagram to his website.

“When I did the PCT, I chronicled that with hand-written, hand-drawn little notes every night,” he says. “When I came into town, I snail-mailed what I had written to a friend, and he scanned and put them up on my website – there was about a 10-day delay.”

Through-hikers, he says, give themselves nicknames. He met Emily “Goldenchild” Shirley on his Pacific Coast hike. She lives in Atlanta, and will shuttle Gleb and Barb to the trail start at Spring Mountain, Georgia.

Gleb adopted the trail name “Drugstore” on his earlier hike, because he had brought way too much ibuprofen along. With all the long-distance training he’s been doing, he’s not worried about needing painkillers much on this hike.

“If I were a cigar smoker, I could put out cigars on my feet by the end of a hike,” he says. “My feet were like devil’s hide. You could put out hot coals on them.”

Oh, man. Hate it when that happens.

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Stock your own backpack — or picnic basket — with Outdoor Vino.

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