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: email@example.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 … ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Regular summer visitors to Hood River may have crossed paths with the annual Wind Fest event. Organized by the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association, Wind Fest enlisted wind surfing and kiteboarding gear makers and sellers to let wind sports addicts try out new gear, down at the Hood River waterfront.
My, how the child has grown. This year, it’s called Beach Bash. Instead of two days, this year it covers four. Here’s the what and where of it all:
Thursday, June 25 — Pray for Wind Party, 6-10 p.m., Stonehedge Gardens restaurant. $20 covers a catered dinner ($10 for kids); cash bar, raffle, band and auction.
Friday, June 26 — High Wind Demo, sponsored by Windance, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rowena (East. Mayer State Park, 15 miles east of Hood River off I-84).
Later that same day (Friday, June 26) — Outdoor Concert, 6-10 p.m., Waterfront Park Amphitheater, presented by 10 Barrel Brewing and supported by Naked Winery, food by 4 & 20 Blackbirds and Leah’s Lunch.
Saturday, June 27 — Big Winds Beach Party, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Hood River Event Site. All kinds of fun, including a Mt. Hood Meadows Kids Section, with races, relays and the Never Ever Windsurfed Before Race. For us bigger people, the day includes music, food, drink, gear demos, archery tag and more.
Sunday, June 28 — All Sports Swap Meet, 7 a.m. (sellers), 8 a.m. (buyers) to noon, Luhr Jensen Parking lot (just to the east of the Hood River Waterfront Park). Sellers pay $10.
Closing BBQ — 1-3 p.m., Northwave Lawn.
Just for the fun of it and to get you all jacked up, we’re sharing a video below from the recent Pistol River Wave Bash on the Oregon Coast. Winds pushing 50 mph, and a lot of talent. The Hood River Beach Bash will be a lot calmer. Count on it.