bayleaf on beautiful Penn Cove Whidbey Island
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July 22nd Saturday 5pm ~ limited seated event
Please join us for a fun and informative evening of Austrian wine! Go beyond Gruner and get a taste of what this ancient winemaking country has to offer: Riesling, Blaufrankisch, Weissburgunder, Zweigelt, St. Laurent. They may not all be easy to pronounce, but they sure are easy to drink! Thematically appropriate snacks will be provided, plus the delightful wine wit of a certain skinny wine salesman who may or may not perform Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions on request. It’s going to be a great evening, you won’t regret joining us! Come by the shop to purchase a seat or online here.
The tale of this winery mirrors that of this young and growing wine region and is equal parts love story, passion for wine, and defiance.
The wife and husband team of Heather and Dean Neff began their foray into the world of winemaking in 1998 by planting a one-acre test block on a piece of family land 20 miles north of Chelan. Planting a vineyard in the area was, at the time, an audacious thing to do. While the area had a hundred year history of growing tree fruit and people had intermittently grown wine grapes, no one was yet producing grapes commercially in the area at the time. In fact, many believed it was too cold.
Heather Neff says of their decision to plant a vineyard and start a winery, “It was the whole thought that winemaking was romantic, that sort of life that you imagine in your head.” It was this life that the Neffs set out to find.
The couple’s experimental vineyard confirmed two things. The first was that growing grapes in the area was possible; the second was that learning to make wine would require more training. “We decided if we were going to put our life savings on the line, we had to get a lot of hands-on experience,” Dean says.
So they packed up their belongings and traveled to Oregon’s famous Willamette Valley where they spent the next two and a half years learning the tools of the trade. By the time they were lured back to Chelan, eager to start their winery, a fledgling wine industry had already begun to take root in the area.
The Neffs planted two vineyards near their original test block north of Chelan in 2004. Rocky Mother (“It is!” Heather declares of the name) is planted to Syrah while nearby Stone’s Throw is planted to Riesling. They also purchased land on the outskirts of Chelan for another estate vineyard and as a home for their winery. They planted this site to Syrah, Malbec and Viognier, naming it Defiance Vineyard because, after all, it was still questionable how wine grapes, or a winery for that matter, would fare at Lake Chelan.
On a romantic overture, the couple opened their tasting room on Valentine’s Day in 2006.
At Nefarious, the Neffs take a unique approach to making their wines. Heather makes the white wines; Dean makes the reds.
“It seemed like a logical thing,” Heather explains. “We could either divide up the varieties or we could make it really simple.” While for some this division of labor might prove difficult, the Neffs have thrived.
~Washington Tasting Room