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

end cap haggens

 

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.

Building the Naked brand in the NW corner of the country

Just before she headed out the door for a trip through Eastern Washington, Emma-Rose Stuart paused to share a few thoughts on the new challenge (for her) of expanding the reach of Naked Winery’s wines in the state of Washington.

In February, Emma stepped into a new role, as Naked’s Washington sales manager.

Emma-Rose Stuart
Emma-Rose Stuart

Isn’t that a bit like taking coals to Newcastle, or selling ice cubes to Eskimos?

Washington, after all, is home to more than 850 wineries, and as Emma says, “they’re all cool. It’s not like they suck.”

Undaunted by the prospect of going toe-to-toe with the heavyweights of Woodinville and Walla Walla, Emma sees the task of introducing Naked to the … well, clothed denizens of the Evergreen State as “fun.”

Why? “Because we have an exciting brand,” she says. “We wouldn’t still be around if we were making crappy wine.”

Emma will build on the foundation created by distribution manager Carrie Coffin and distribution partners Big River Distributors in Vancouver, and Ambrosia Wine Group in Seattle.

“Since we partnered with Ambrosia, we’ve found strong success both north and south of Seattle, and are currently focusing on the more dense neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and the U-District, and also suburbs on the Eastside and across the Puget Sound,” Emma says.
She says Ambrosia is also now serving Naked customers on the Olympic Peninsula.

 

Naked has good visibility in the Seattle and Vancouver areas, but Emma is hoping to increase opportunities for Naked’s existing customers to find a bottle at their favorite store or restaurant.

“We’re hoping to have more of our wine in big box stores, like Total Wine & More,” Emma says.

She’s confident that once people get to know Naked, they’ll appreciate the quality and pull a cork.

“The competition is stiff ” she says, “but that’s what’s fun about it.”

Spoken like a true Naked trooper.

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Diverse skill set prepares Carrie Coffin to push Naked brand into new U.S. markets

Carrie Coffin and her husband, Andrew Coffin.
Carrie Coffin and her husband, Andrew Coffin.

Think, for a second, about the relay race that delivered that bottle of Naked wine to, for example,  the tailgate of your pickup outside Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

It begins with the wine, of course, but beyond Hood River, Ore., and the bottling line, getting that bottle of Naked to Oklahoma passes through a long chain of handoffs.

You can thank Carrie Coffin for starting the bottle on its way.

Naked’s director of distribution (don’t yawn … this is dramatic stuff), Wright draws on her background in design and architecture, ski instruction and long-distance travel to put Naked and Outdoor Vino bottles where your desire departs from dollars.

Recruited from her job at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort by Emily Knutson, Coffin started pouring Naked tastes in the spring of 2010.

She was commuting to Hood River from her home 60 miles west in Portland. She noticed that stores where she shopped lacked something significant – Naked Wine. So she asked company co-founder Dave Barringer “why isn’t Naked here?”

He replied with a question of his own: “Why aren’t you working in outside sales?”

Sales got her curious about the company’s distribution chain. Jody Barringer had that pile on her plate, but it was spilling off the edges. Six months after joining Naked, Coffin assumed the job of distribution manager.

“It means you’re working with distributors, finding new distributors, building relationships, managing orders, helping the sales team learn about the winery, setting up connections to sell more wine for us,” Wright says in summary.

It means, also, that she found herself in Moore, Oklahoma, a week before the massive 2015 tornado that lay waste to the town.

She dodged the worst of the massive twister that leveled the Oklahoma City suburb. She says she experienced massive thunderstorms when she was there, “but I never heard the sirens go off. My hotel was about a mile from the path.”

Introducing Naked Wines to Oklahoma is all part of Naked’s push into the heartland. “Everything from Oklahoma and Kansas, Nebraska on over to Tennessee and Missouri,” Coffin says.

Her most recent (May 2013) visit to the capital city of Oklahoma was … interesting.

“It was my third visit to that market,” she says. “I go once a year, although I’ll probably not be returning in May again. I do not want to go through tornado season again.”

She says the Oklahoma market is growing a lot. “They love our Climax (red blend), Tease (riesling), Pinot Gris and Outdoor Vino (Wanderlust) white,” she says.

Coffin did a lot of door-knocking in Seattle and other western Washington communities, before handing that territory off to Stuart early this year (2015).

“We literally went on cold calls, took wines, introduced ourselves, offered samples,” she says. “We sold wine out of our car pretty much. And we got three accounts.”

As Naked continues the search for a Seattle distributor, it happily work with Big River Distributors in Vancouver and DJP Selections on the Olympic Peninsula.

Ground-pounding, door-knocking, cold-calling full-on frontal assault is the same way Coffin first proved herself up to the distribution job – by finding General Distributors and sealing a distribution relationship for the Portland market.

Coffin also has her sights set on the San Diego market. Initial contacts have been encouraging.

“One distributor we contacted had had accounts asking for Outdoor Vino, which is surprising, because we hadn’t done that much down there,” she says. “Apparently some hotel wanted it for sale poolside.”

For an environment in which broken glass is not a good thing, plastic bottles – and good wine – clearly are a marriage made for the market.