Stu Watson
March 17, 2015 | Stu Watson

Wine Slinger Wing to take walk in footsteps of Lewis & Clark


Aliah Wing and her boyfriend, Rick.

Aliah Wing likes to joke that her name came from hippie parents. Growing up near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, she somehow absorbed the free-form, unconventional nature of the park's namesake trees.

A self-described gypsy, Bend tasting room's designated “wine slinger” now has her sights set on a replication of what many Americans think of as “the” classic adventure – hiking the full length of the trail followed by explorers William Clark and Meriwether Lewis.

If all goes to plan, she will set out in April 2016 on foot from New Orleans, with a target destination of Astoria, Ore.

“I've been joking that maybe I could get the world record for the longest walk to work,” she told us, before heading off to join the crew working the Sip – McMinnville Wine & Food Classic March 13-15.

“I'm hoping my boyfriend will join me, but I welcome anybody who wants to hop on and walk part of it with me.”

Educated in teaching elementary and special education students, Aliah is hoping her hike provides a chance to her to attend the school of the open road.

“The beauty of that hike is that it passes a lot of population, so I'm hoping to do frequent updates on Facebook,” she says. “What I really want to do is meet the families that live along the trail, and learn what kind of life they live.”

In the meantime, she's having a great time introducing people to Naked Wines, both at the Bend tasting room and as part of the outside events crew.

She loves the crush of people, the volume, the energy and the unexpected fun that comes with staffing a booth, popping a cork, and helping happy people get Naked.

“You're lucky to have any voice left after an event,” she says.

In her spare time, she likes to hike with her boyfriend Rick, who is retired from the military, and take pictures, “anything that can get me outside.”

For several years, before moving to Bend two years ago, she spent much of her life indoors, helping run a beer and wine bar called Uncorked, in Redding, Calif.

She was on her way from Bend to visit her brother in Seattle when she stopped in Hood River, and met Naked's “secret weapon,” Becky Williams, at the downtown tasting room.

“Becky signed me up to the wine club,” Aliah recalls.

Later, when the Bend store was nearing launch, Aliah came to mind as a possible recruit.

She says her nickname – all Naked employees get to make up their own – came to her quite by accident.

“I was bored with generic titles,” she says. “People would ask if I was the owner or manager, and I would say, 'No, I just sling wine.' “

And that's just the way she likes it. No ambitions to run things.

“My goal is to just be a tasting room employee, work there, pour wine, and have fun,” she says.

In her 35th year, Aliah Wing says she doesn't want to get too bogged down with responsibilities while she still has her eyes on the horizon, and the desire – and ability – to walk 3,700 miles.

Stay tuned for details as the Naked team follows and supports Aliah on her heroic hike.



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