By Janet Eastman
Granted, drinking wine anywhere can lead to nudity. The sensual aromas. The romantic notions. There’s a long history of a wanted lover being seduced over deep red wine. Even the cupped curve of a wine glass is suggestive. And then there’s the shape of the bottle.
The whole scene is ripe for pleasure. Disrobing after that kind of immersion is only natural.
Ah, new nudity. It’s a different kind of first blush.
In a private setting, it’s all good. But tasting room staffers report witnessing recent acts of escapades au naturel.
• A trio of refined women – two brunettes and a redhead – made pilgrimages in the spring and summer to Cubanisimo Vineyard in Salem. There, they took off their clothes and found a man willing to take photographs while they posed coyly behind well-positioned vines.
• A lovey-dovey couple asked to explore the rose garden behind Trium’s tasting room in Talent. A short time later, owner Laura Lotspeich found the duo posing in the buff for each other’s cellphones.
• An 83-year-old woman entered the Naked Winery’s tasting room in Hood River, flashed her American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR) membership card and then started to strip. She was quickly stopped and told that “naked” here is only a state of mind when it comes to anything other than wine not spending time in an oak barrel.
• And not a week goes by, say tasting room staffers at Dobbes Family Estate in Dundee, that someone doesn’t flash the life-size cutout of the Wine By Joe cartoon character.
Considering the thousands of fully clothed people who stream through Oregon’s tasting rooms on a yearly basis, stripping is a rare occurrence. When asked about misbehaving patrons, Michael Wisnovsky of Valley View Winery in Jacksonville was surprised. “We have really never seen anything improper or illegal happen in our tasting room. Nudity? Really? I feel a little left out.”
In each case cited here, when wine patrons did succumb to primal urges on private vineyard property, none of the witnesses — all adults — called the sheriff or police. For the record, Oregon statute defines public indecency as a crime if sex or an intent of arousing is involved “while in, or in view of, a public place.”
Most long-time practicing nudists say there is a big difference between nudity and sex. You don’t have to be nude to have sex, and you don’t need to have sex when you’re nude, they say.
“Nudists would want nothing more than to spend all their time in our birthday suits drinking coffee or wine or doing anything,” says Shirley Gauthier, AANR member and a spokeswoman for Willamettans Family Nudist Resort in Marcola, the largest nudist club in the Pacific Northwest.
Fellow AANR members — and yes, they somehow carry membership cards — adhere to the rules of “nude when possible, clothes when appropriate.”
Gauthier doesn’t know a member who has flung off clothes in a tasting room. She explains that appropriate behavior in her community is defined as something you don’t have to apologize for doing.
She adds that wineries have hosted wine tastings at her resort, and the events have always sold out. “If a winery let us know that they invite nudists, our members would be there,” she says.
The tasting room staffers who talked about nude spottings described patrons who are, for the most part, not practicing nudists but people who have dropped on a dare.
“At Cubanisimo, we see a lot of fun folks with their free spirits soaring with the music, the wine and the good food when we have events such as Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend and Thanksgiving Weekend,” says owner Mauricio Collada. “We delight in being able to provide a setting were folks can relax, enjoy good wine and be themselves.”
Collada says that all kinds of relationships have started in his tasting room. People have met for the first time and become friends. Couples have become engaged. And a certain trio has “exposed the plants to the wonders of the free and beautiful unencumbered human body.”
He says he and his staff were “amused” when they first discovered the women “totally and gaily in the nude.” He jokes that if this continues, it may be his first step in being classified as practicing Biodynamic farming.
Stark facts on stark-nakedness
The explanation for vineyard nudity is less easily exposed than the people enjoying it. Of the behavior experts called on to comment for this article, none could point directly to what may be triggering a mindset that leads to such earth-driven frivolity.
Is it that there are more tasting rooms in the countryside, beckoning buttoned-down city slickers to commune with nature? Or that more people are liberating themselves from economic woes by liberating their buttons, buckles and Velcro? Or is it just a touch of Bacchanalia that’s helping people peel off their inhibitions and hence, their layers of clothing?
The explanation, say those who have given in to the urge to undress, may be this simple: It’s a fun, unexpected way to celebrate the human form.
“A tasting room is a great place to misbehave,” confesses one of the Cubanisimo streakers, who describes herself as 35 years old, single and “in love with life, dancing, wine and friends.”
She asked that her name not be used because Oregon “is a small state. Ha ha, ha ha!”
In the course of the interview, she ha-ha-hahed! a lot, clearly having fun reliving her experiences of wearing nothing but a smile.
She says the instigator of the first flash of flesh this Memorial Day was her female friend, a 6-foot-tall redhead, “the epicenter of fun who brings zest to every occasion.”
After dancing to live salsa and tasting new releases, the three women ventured into the rain and dropped their shirts, bras and skirts as they ran deeper into the vineyard.
She says she and her friends would never think about disrobing in a city wine bar, but the lure of the vines was too much to ignore. “I love the organization of the vines, how someone is trying to manage them but they cannot be completely under control. There is a passion that can’t be harnessed.”
Is she also speaking of herself? “Maybe. I’m hard to control, too. Ha ha, ha ha!”
Surprisingly, modesty was also a factor. She said she felt safe because the vineyards are always deserted when she’s there: “People drink wine but don’t get out to see the secret.”
She and her friends undraped again over Labor Day Weekend. Her reason: “There is a passion, a sexiness and ‘funness’ to wine. Everyone should be able to get outside of themselves. Wine and vines help that.”
If past long weekends are any indication, visitors to Cubanisimo should be on the lookout Thanksgiving weekend for a trio with Cheshire smiles. Then just follow the ha ha, ha ha’s!
Janet Eastman writes about Southern Oregon wine for national publications and websites. Her work can be seen at www.janeteastman.com.