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.

Naked Winery tasting room (and others) vault Hood River to top of Sunset list

hood river top adv town

We know you turn to TNT (uh, that would be The Naked Truth) for all your … well, naked truth. But we thought you might like to know about an upstart little publication — delivered on paper, no less — that has decided, after more than a century of publication, to issue its first Sunset Travel Awards.

Whoops, we let it slip, with the screen grab, if not the mention of the publication’s name.

You probably figured out that Hood River was named top adventure town, when you heard all those people in McCall, Idaho, chanting “We’re No. 2! We’re No. 2!”

The thing is, Sunset talked about windsurfing and skiing and mountain biking, but they didn’t mention the real adventure in Hood River — getting to every tasting room in a short radius of the Naked Winery downtown tasting room.

We think our tasting room is the logical first stop. Get off I-84 at Exit 63, turn right, go one block, and park.

We’re trying to come  up with a slogan that captures the inevitability — and irresistability — of us. Like this:

“Once you go Naked, you never go baked.”

Or …

“Once you go Naked,  you never should play with a yo-yo.”

You get the idea, and because you do, please send us your better ideas.

The hard part about starting first at our tasting room? Prying yourself away from our tasting team to think about trying some of the other fine wines emerging from the area’s adventurous wine producers.

Come  see us, in Hood River, Bend, McMinnville or South Dakota.