In the event of an event, Vince Perrone brings Naked to the people
Vince Perrone is good at going with the flow. When his consulting job died in the recession, he returned to food service at the well-known Philadelphia restaurant Gayle.
The chef loved Oregon pinot noirs.
The wine list featured nothing else.
But beyond Oregon's grape, Perrone knew little about the state. He certainly wasn't planning a move to Oregon, or work for its funnest winery.
Not, at least, until another resident in his rental house accidentally burned the place down.
All Perrone had left after the fire were the clothes on his back, a fishing rod, golf clubs, a snowboard, his car – and the sense that it might be time for a change.
“I decided I would go somewhere I could use all of them,” said Perrone, now the outside events manager for Naked Winery.
On the drive west to Portland, he stopped for lunch in Hood River.
“I thought, this place is awesome,” he recalls.
Little did he know it would become home.
He was tending bar in Portland, teaching snowboarding at Mt. Hood Meadows and looking at a gap in his summer work schedule when some strong verbal hints – to locker room neighbors Dave Barringer, one of Naked's owners, and Kelly Medler, then-manager of the Hood River tasting room -- led to an offer of a gig in the tasting room.
A year ago, he made the move to events. These days, Perrone and the other members of the events staff – Shelly Bradley, Chris Garvey and Aliah Wing – are amping up the volume on Naked's presence at regional events. In 2013, they staffed 37 events. Perrone says they're shooting for a least 52 this year, and maybe more.
Food and wine events are naturals on the calendar. “But a lot of events aren't wine shows per se,” Perrone says.
He says the Naked Winery team loves to attend events focused on products such as recreational vehicles, boats, cars, what have you.
“Part of the Naked theme is creating new wine drinkers,” Perrone says. “We sold 12 cases of Rambling Red (Outdoor Wino) at the boat show. I spend so much time at the Expo Center, they know how I like my coffee.”
He loves the different types of people he meets at events. It's great, he says, to disabuse people of the notion that Naked doesn't make good wine. Or to help people who are new to wine.
“People like learning about wine without being talked down to,” he says. “The thing that attracts people to us is that we're approachable. We're not snooty.”
Perrone says it's rewarding to meet a mix of Club Naked members at any show he attends.
“We have such a diversity of people in our wine club,” he says. “Even people with a big wine palate appreciate our wine.”