Stu Watson
April 27, 2015 | Stu Watson

Wine Locker makes gaining access to our wine a puzzling challenge

Harley Colwell lives closer to Portland, Maine, than Portland, Ore., but a recent search for the perfect companion led him virtually to Naked Winery’s world headquarters in Hood River, Ore.

Before you get the wrong idea, let’s be clear – Harley is happily married.

He and his wife, Deanna, operate a small business they call Hardee Crafts, in Windsor, Maine. They make and sell distinctive -- and challenging -- games and puzzles. 

Harley had recently completed design and construction of a novel device to secure a wine bottle from easy access. He was looking for a companion product that would show off the utility of his invention – a safe, empty wine bottle, to be precise.

He didn’t want an ordinary glass wine bottle. He and Deanna take his ingenious creations on a busy schedule of craft fairs, where eager customers might accidentally drop a glass bottle on the floor.

Or, if they got too frustrated trying to figure out how to remove the Wine Locker, they might decide that dropping the bottle on the floor was the quickest and surest way to remove what we at Naked have come to call “the chastity bolt.”

The Colwells hooked up by e-mail and phone with our ace customer service rep, Cory Williamson (showing off the Wine Locker securely affixed to a bottle of Outdoor Vino Wanderlust White, in photo at right).

What led the Colwells to Cory was the discovery that we use a plastic bottle for our Outdoor Vino wines. Light, simple and unlikely to shatter if dropped on a concrete floor.

Perfect, in short, to demonstrate the puzzling inaccessibility of the Wine Locker.

At Naked, we’re fine with corks and screw caps. We just draw the line at permanent – or difficult – closures, such as the Wine Locker that Harley invented. When it’s time to get into the bottle, we want in, now if not sooner.

But we were so intrigued with Harley’s Wine Locker, we had to learn more.

Harley retired in 2005 from a career as a physics teacher.

He says the Wine Locker is one of three puzzles he developed this year.  It didn’t happen easily.

“That design was in the works for years,” he says. “I kept trying different things. I’d give up for awhile, then try something else. There were probably a dozen failed attempts.”

He had seen other wine security devices, “all based on string technology.” He knows a gentleman who makes those, and thought out of fairness, he would take a different route, to a mechanical device using wood and bolts.

“He had the basic idea, and then it was refining it,” Deanna says.

“I kept working and working on it,” Harley says. “Finally I got the combination this year that worked out.”

He says someone who figures it out can remove the Wine Locker in about a minute.

That would not – yet – include the crew at Naked Winery. Harley has promised to send the removal instructions to Williamson, once she cries “uncle.”

Harley says the mental landscape that can comprehend physics helps prepare someone such as himself to imagine and build puzzles.

“For puzzle lovers, it’s not the physics behind it, but it’s the ability to turn things around in your head,” Harley says.

Well, good job, Harley. Your Wine Locker has turned our heads around -- and tied them in a knot.

Could  you send us the number for that other puzzle guy, the one who works with string?


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