When Heather Neff graduated from Central in 1999 with a degree in business administration, she planned to work with her family in the golf course industry.
However, when she met her now-husband Dean, they found a common interest in wine. The couple spent two and a half years in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where they worked in the wine industry and completed a winemaking program. A few years later, they returned home to Chelan, Washington, to start their own label: Nefarious Cellars.
“Having a business degree changes the lens through which you look at your own business,” said Heather. “I credit a lot of what I am able to provide to Nefarious with what I learned at Central. My degree was a great foundation for owning my own business.”
Within their winery, Heather is in charge of the wine club, marketing, blog writing, bookkeeping, tasting notes, and white winemaking, while Dean makes sure they grow beautiful fruit by managing the vineyard, overseeing operational details, and making their red wine.
The partnership has clearly worked as Nefarious Cellars has been featured in regional and national magazines such as Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, and the “Top 100 Wines of the World” in Wine Enthusiast.
“Wine publications have so, so many wineries to choose from when they are looking at regions and states, both nationally and globally for wines to review and mention,” Heather said. “It is incredible to have your wine reviewed by those publications and in turn, receive such positive feedback and scores.
“In the case of the ‘Top 100 Wines,’ making a list out of all the wines produced in a year is mind-blowing. It is every winemaker’s dream to make something that will be considered that noteworthy.”
Recently, the couple partnered with the CWU Alumni Association to introduce the CWU Wine Club.
“I would love for this program to benefit the Wildcat family by making wine more approachable and fun. It adds one more layer to an already vibrant alumni association and it is really exciting that the alumni association will be able to add this as yet another benefit.”
For more information and to join the wine club, please visit cwuwineclub.com.