From start in family vineyard, Alaina Waller brings her winemaking talents to Naked Winery
Helping harvest grapes in her family's Hood River valley vineyard, Alaina Waller at age 10 couldn't have dreamed that she herself would one day be turning grape juice into Naked wine.
But that's exactly how it happened, after a slight detour down the road of a ripe interest in the study of science.
“I always liked science and knew I wanted to do something sciencey,” she says. “When I started out, I wanted to make airplanes. But that changed when I discovered how much math was involved.”
Enrolled at Oregon State University, Waller found her way instead into the food science and technology program. She decided to focus on oenology and viticulture, in part because it involved a lot of science, chemistry and analysis.
Growing up on her family's farm, she helped harvest 4 acres of riesling and chardonnay grapes, then haul it to the former Flerchinger winery.
“I did my first harvest when I was 10 years old,” she says. “I got to see it pressed.”
Alaina Waller started picking grapes at 10, now helps make wine for Naked.
It clearly made an … impression? Sorry, bad pun.
After securing her degree, Waller helped produce the 2012 vintage at Hogue Cellars in Prosser, Wash., then moved to an internship in the research winery at E.&J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif.
She joined Naked Winery in February, and says she most likes making white wines.
“One of my favorites is Symphony,” she says. (For the story behind the Symphony clone, click here.)
“I like that it can go as a dry or sweet wine, depending on how you ferment it. It's exotic – not as familiar as pinot gris or chardonnay.”
Since joining Naked, Waller has continued her education, going through her first bottling experience and learning barrel maintenance.
“I like doing a new thing every day, and that's what I get to do at Naked,” she says.