Farm to Fork event July 25 puts your palate on the plate

Aquaponic grow beds at the Innovation Center.
Aquaponic grow beds at the Innovation Center.

Around Truth Central, we love to pull back a bit and observe food and beverage trend lines. Remember, back in the day (hey, where did THAT phrase come from?), when you went out to eat and you ordered and your food came to you from … the kitchen?

Not … any … more.

Today, it’s all “farm to table.” As if (ahem) the kitchen didn’t even exist.

But (there’s always the “but”), if you put the kitchen on the farm, and the tables, too, it’s problem solved.

Boy, has Naked Winery got its Club Naked members (and special guest) covered with our own authentic slightly rebranded Farm to Fork feast — Get Fresh! on Saturday, July 25, at the Ingenuity Innovation Center in St. Helens, down along the gorgeous lower Columbia River.

With wine, of course.

According to Club Naked manager Lara Friesen, the greens for the event will come from the aquaponic green houses at the Innovation Center. Pair that up with fresh fish and tri-tip from the grill, and it’s game on.

Diners will be eating outside, listening to “fun and funky jazz” by Julie Amici Trio.

When diners aren’t noshing or sipping Naked’s finest, they can get social (and recreational) herding cows, pitching forks and competitively eating corn on the cob.

The fun starts at 4:30 p.m., and a seat at the table (and farm) is $50 per person.

Get your Club Naked membership and reserve your seats (and forks) by e-mail: lara@nakedwinery.com

Now, go to our facebook page and tell us your favorite variation on the “farm to table” concept. How about “field to flatware” or … ?

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

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.

Returning summer escort Aspen Braniff loves water with her wine

Aspen Braniff appreciates the chemistry of wine, but likes the taste more.
Aspen Braniff appreciates the chemistry of wine, but likes the taste more.

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.

Neagle hides ‘Top Gun’ beneath towel for Club Naked wine pickup Experience

C. Patrick Neagle strides resolutely toward his "Top Gun" Experience.
C. Patrick Neagle strides resolutely toward his “Top Gun” Experience.

We encouraged people to get into the spirit of the “Top Gun” movie, if they planned to attend one of our wine pickup parties this month.

Boy, did C. Patrick Neagle embrace the full range of potential attire.

Neagle, a writer and adjunct college instructor, calls Trout Lake home these days.

For his “Top Gun” experience, he could’ve gone bonkers and concocted some sort of Naval aviation costume.

But no, that would’ve been too easy.

C. Patrick Neagle and his wingwoman Angela Bliss at the Naked Winery "Top Gun" Experience
C. Patrick Neagle and his wingwoman Angela Bliss at the Naked Winery “Top Gun” Experience

Instead, he embraced, as he puts it, “the way of the towel.”

Sartorially deconstructed and spinning out of control toward minimalism, he showed up June 13 at the Hood River tasting room wearing a white terrycloth towel.

Nothing else. Just a towel.

He says he got the idea from another Club Naked member, chatting during a previous visit.

“He mentioned that he would come in a towel, and I thought that was a brilliant idea,”
Neagle says. “I hoped he would be there and I could say: Maverick, it’s not your flying, it’s your attitude. The enemy’s dangerous, but right now you’re worse. Dangerous and foolish.’ ”

Foolish, wearing a towel to a wine pickup party? For Neagle, that was just the start of a day in high concept.

“In the entire movie, everyone is always sweaty, to the point where I wanted for the costume to be really authentic, I wanted to take a mister,” he says.

But he forgot. He was busy getting … wrapped. He says the towel — a regular bath towel, from Ikea — was held on by nothing but a tuck.

“I got dressed up here, if you can call a towel getting dressed,” he says. “I drove down with me wearing the towel. I spent three to four hours in the towel. This is a really good towel, so I didn’t once have to adjust it.”

To ensure its security — because, as should be the case, he wasn’t wearing anything beneath the towel — he tested it.

“To demonstrate the towel, I jumped up and down several times,” he says. “It never gave or loosened.”

Good thing, because his girlfriend, artist Angela Bliss, wasn’t so sure about the jumping up and down idea.

Neagle’s real life isn’t that far from the fictive world of Navy pilots on Navy ships in “Top Gun.” A native of Missouri, Neagle employed his master’s degree in English to secure a gig teaching on board U.S. Navy ships. He works through Central Texas College in Killeen, and its Navy College Program for Afloat College Education.

“They call me up, and tell me such and such ship is available, for such and such classes, and do I want to take it?” Neagle says.

“They fly me to the ship wherever it is. I get on board, and I’m there for usually one or two terms. One term is 7-8 weeks, so I can be on board four months.”

Shipboard life, for those who haven’t lived it themselves, is noisy, full of mechanical odors, and crowded. He shares a dorm-like space with four or five other teachers. They teach two to three times a day, three days a week.

The rest of the time, Neagle writes. He says he can draft a novel during a teaching cruise.

Because of that work flexibility, he says, he and Bliss can live anywhere — and have. Before moving to Trout Lake in 2013 — and joining Club Naked in 2014 — Neagle and Bliss lived in Mexico, Sardinia, Alaska and New Orleans.

Trout Lake works for now, in part because it’s close to the Hood River tasting room of Naked Winery.

And Ikea, in case he ever needs a new towel.

A sign of the times for towel-trained C. Patrick Neagle.
A sign of the times for towel-trained C. Patrick Neagle.

Appalachian Trail hikers hit half-way point, gain strength from piles of miles

(Editor’s note: Here’s the last report from Barb Prescott, who is hiking the Appalachian Trail with her boyfriend, Gleb Velikanov. Naked Winery is sponsoring them with regular deliveries of lightweight bottles of Outdoor Vino wine.)

Friends, family and fellow yo-yo dieters,

Gleb and I have officially exited the “dirty south” and are in West Virginia, about two miles outside of Maryland. We have had quite an adventure in the last month on our way to the half-way mark.

Gleb and Barb in Shenandoah National Park.
Gleb and Barb in Shenandoah National Park.

First and foremost, I feel as if we have stepped into a true thru-hiker realm. We are able to bang out “big miles” consistently. I am not talking about the silly 20-mile strolls I mentioned in my previous e-mails. We have been steadily hiking about 25 miles every day and even traveled 32 miles in one stretch two days ago.

Around 4 p.m. that day, we had about 13 miles to go. With that seemingly daunting prospect, I thought to myself “sheesh, can I do this?” Hungry, tired and sore, I had to start digging deep inside myself to keep going. It’s kind of amazing how you have to get your mind and body in sync in order to complete such a monumental task, something that I proudly feel like I have mastered at this point.

We confidently strolled into the gas station one hour before they closed and enjoyed our last southern meal of Jo-Jo’s, fried chicken, two pints of ice cream and donuts. It felt good to be alive that night!

Wild ponies love carrots.
Wild ponies love carrots.

Virginia has been our favorite state so far: It contains about 600 miles of the trail, wild ponies in the Grayson Highlands State Park, and lots of wildlife in the Shenandoah National Park. The ponies in Grayson Highlands are a must-see for all the thru-hikers on the AT.

We saw people buying carrots in town right before the park to make sure they would capture the perfect picture with them. Our friend “Snail” celebrated his 20th birthday with the ponies and a five pound bag of carrots. He was loving it!

Gleb and I decided to push on and left the group of hikers we had been with for a couple of weeks to make it to “The Barn” in time to celebrate my birthday. The town — or small street, I should say — consisted of two gas stations and a tiny school cafeteria style restaurant. We ate southern food including a hiker burger, hush puppies, and a real treat for me (!) pickled beets! We capped the night with a Steele reserve beer and strawberry ice cream, hiker trash-style.

About half way through Virginia we got picked up by our friends’ parents, Jim and Vickie Budge, and spent the night in the town of Lynchburg. They took us grocery shopping, let us wash our smelly clothing, and cooked us the most delicious home cooked meal including squash lasagna and a mixed green salad.

Back on the trail, we did a quick 70-mile jump into Waynesboro, VA, so that I could pick up a package. I unexpectedly got hit with a cold and had to take a day off to rest before entering The Shenandoah National Park. The park was on par with what one would expect from a national park — exaggerated wilderness, hikers allowed to stay only in the trail side shelters, and lured to purchase expensive food at frequent waysides.

Those are park ran-Delaware corporation-owned stores/cafeterias. In the Shenandoahs, they were scattered every 10 to 20 miles and offered grocery store quality food at premium prices. Clearly we weren’t too fond of all the rules and things in the park.

The bear did not back down.
The bear did not back down.

We did see some wildlife, mainly bear and deer. One beefy Ursine specimen even cared to have a Mexican stand off with us. On our way back to the trail from one of the waysides, we encountered a bear on his way down to where we came from, probably in search of food scraps. Upon seeing us he did not want to yield, even after we loudly sang songs, yelled and banged our poles together! Eeeek!

After about 10-15 minutes and him still not backing away from us, we decided to be the more level-headed mammals and slowly back away from him. We walked back down the trail, got on a different one, which eventually connected us back on to the Appalachian Trail. We both confessed to each other later that that scared the s–t out of us and that we were each happy with how brave and calm the other appeared during the encounter.

Over the next couple of days deer came equally close, and that was AMAZING! Last but certainly not least, I finally saw my first firefly! About three-and-a-half years back I had mentioned to Gleb that I had never seen one in my life. Before I even noticed the little flickering creature, he got one stuck on his hand and came over to me with a huge smile and an even bigger “YOU’RE WELCOME!” It was so sweet it brought a tear to my eye.

People that really know me know that I am totally sensitive and that I can cry when anything touches my heart. I think I may have inherited this from my dad. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is putting me even more in touch with myself and my feelings. Imagine me climbing my heart out up every mountain and tearing up at the beautiful view at the top every single time. It gets pretty comical.

Sometimes I am so overflowing with joy and gratitude when people unexpectedly offer us things that I can’t help but cry and everyone laughs. This brings me to the day Gleb and I were approaching the half-way mark. Friends that had been hiking with us knew, and all teasingly said that it was going to be an emotional day for me and it truly was. I am so proud of us for making it this far. Crossing the bridge over the Shenandoah River into Harpers Ferry was such a monumental moment for us that it was almost in slow motion. And I totally cried.

We are looking forward to completing the second half of this journey north as simply and as light as we possibly can. Washing our clothes and selves in a river by day and using our body heat in our sleeping bags at night as a dryer may not sound like a super good time, but it is, especially if you have a super partner and awesome support at your side!

So much love from the trail,

“Whisper” (Barb’s trail name)

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.