Hood River photographer Blaine Franger got busy with his camera a week ago, when a thunderous lightning storm settled over the central Columbia River Gorge.
Many of the area’s residents slept through the rumble and the tumble, but Blaine got after it. Thanks, Blaine, for permission to share this image with readers of The Naked Truth. What a marvelous shot, lightning as a mirror image.
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.
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 ThingSymphony.
“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.
Now it’s home to the latest tasting room in Naked Winery’s quest to take over the world. Look out Starbucks, here we come.
Well, maybe not quite yet.
Today, McMinnville. Tomorrow? Stay tuned.
The Gairretts were Naked virgins, but suitably impressed with the white flight poured by Club Naked envoy Chris Garvey.
For all our fans and followers who live south and west of the Portland traffic jam, Naked Winery is happy to steer you toward this closer and more convenient option to our existing facilities in Hood River, Bend and South Dakota.
Naked opened its McMinnville doors for the city’s oh-so-fun UFO Festival on May 14-17.
With all the final touches in place, the store is now open at 11 a.m. daily, closing 6 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Around our parts, the people who play inside the Naked sandbox have the luxury of picking their own job titles.
Sometimes they even get to pick the jobs that go with them.
So, what titles do we like and wear around the office?
Aliah Wing, out of our Bend tasting room, calls herself the Wine Slinger. “People keep asking me if I’m the owner. My reply is, ‘Nope, I just sling the wine.'”
David Barringer, co-founder, calls himself Director of Affairs, because it’s “modeled after chargé d’affaires, as I’m the next best thing to who’s really in charge, i.e. (his wife) Jody, and it has a fun double entendre that plays well at Naked Winery.”
Dave Michalec, vice president and co-founder, calls himself “Director of Foreign Affairs”
Joe Garoutte, Hood River tasting room manager, took the nom de prom of “Designated Hitter,” then realized that didn’t sound too good, and adopted “Male Escort” to go with his official role.
Stu Watson, the person behind much of the content on The Naked Truth blog, took the title of Chief Tale Shaker. “As a normal red-blooded American human guy, I admit to enjoying the occasional twerk. Not that I would ever risk frightening people by doing that myself. What I do best is tell tales, tall and short. So I guess that makes me a “tale-shaker” as opposed to a “tail-shaker.”
Kari Croke, tasting room escort, but she says she’s also been referred to as “The Vino Vixen”
Chelsea Bridgewater, our stellar controller, wears the fun title of Financial Dominatrix.
Oregon is the slippery slope. Before moving from Buffalo, N.Y., to Portland with her ex-husband in 1997, Jennifer Cox didn’t drink wine.
“I’m a vodka person,” she says.
Not so much, now. These days, she prefers to crack a bottle of wine when she returns home from her work as business development trainer for Vacasa, the Portland-based vacation rental company.
A three-year member of Club Naked, Cox remembers how she headed down the slippery slope that eventually landed her in the lap of Naked Winery. She and friends in 1999 started heading south to Willamette Valley wine country.
“The first time I went to a winery, it was Elk Cove,” she recalls. “I was just enamored by the whole scene. It was beautiful, a cool experience to drink wine.”
Invariably, Cox would return home with bottles of pinot noir. Mostly because it was what the wineries there made and sold, in abundance. Which is weird, because …
“I don’t like pinots,” she says. “I tried and tried them. I would buy them, put them in the rack, and drink other stuff. It got to a point where I just wasn’t drinking them.
“I had 23 bottles of pinot. So I offered all my friends a clearance sale of $5 per bottle. ‘Get them out,’ I told them. ‘I’m never going to drink them’.”
She had learned, in the course of avoiding pinot noir, that she preferred zinfandels, syrahs, merlots.
“I like the big, heavy reds,” she says.
She found plenty to please her palate after she discovered Naked Winery.
Years of fighting traffic to enjoy the upper Willamette Valley led Cox to look east. She can’t remember her first Naked experience, but it left an impression.
These days, she leans toward the Gorge, and the variety of quality wines in the area.
“You can just park downtown, get out and walk to several tasting rooms,” she says.
She and her boyfriend pop out to the Hood River tasting room every two or three months.
“Part of the allure of joining (Club Naked) is that I wanted access for the members-only room,” she says.
Club membership opens a variety of doors. She and a friend were on a cross-country drive when they emerged from the Black Hills of South Dakota and, voila!, found themselves looking at the Naked Winery outpost in Hill City.
“It was closed when we got there, so my friend and I sat there in the parking lot, staring at the door until it opened,” Cox says.
After about 20 minutes, not all day, we should clarify.
Now that Cox knows a thing or two about wine, she has taken on the guide role that her friends once took with her.
“I just got a call from a cousin in Melbourne, Florida,” Cox says. “I haven’t seen her in 20 years. She’s coming out specifically to spend 10 days in Hood River.”
All at the Naked Winery tasting room, no doubt.
Where Cox will likely introduce her to some personal Naked favorites. Such as?
“I like the seasonal red blends,” she says. “The Merlot is fantastic. And you can’t go wrong with any of the Oh’s!”
We agree. Any Orgasmic experience is better than no Orgasmic experience.
Or maybe you tilt toward a date with Willie Nelson, and a glass of Naked?
Or a date with the Decembrists? Or a chance to go … Phish-in?
Well, you can, thanks to our sponsorship for the second year running of the Bend summer concert series at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
The 15-concert series starts off May 22 with the Decembrists, and keeps on rockin’ through Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals on Sept. 6.
The Naked Truth checked in the other day with Chelsea Woodmansee, sponsorship and events coordinator with the Amphitheater and adjacent Old Mill District. They’ve got so much stuff going on this summer, you could party until October and never see your boss (or a paycheck) for months.
“We’ve got 15 ticketed concerts this year,” Woodmansee says. “Naked Winery is a sponsor. We love Naked winery; it’s a great relationship.”
OK, you’re going to see our sexy logo around and about the venue. But when you wander over to the concession stand to slake your Central Oregon thirst? That’s when we — Naked, that is — will do what we do best … put wicked-tasty wine in your glass.
Woodmansee says promoters also have embraced our Outdoor Vino wines in durable PET plastic bottles for sale during their Summer Sunday free concert series.
“There are six of them, featuring both local and out of town bands,” Woodmansee says.
And if that isn’t enough entertainment? Look elsewhere, for Woodmansee doing her independent stand-up comedy act.
Yep. Events and chuckles, all in the same package.
“My brother does it, and I was watching his show, sitting in the audience, jonesing to try it,” she says.
And kill it. She won Bend’s Last Comic Standing event in 2011, on her first try. Now she has a variety show that stages at various times around Bend.
With a little Naked wine, she might even work her way into a gig at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.