How we started
Faber Vineyard was established in 1997 by John Griffiths and his wife Jane Micallef. Faber is the Latin word for craft. We chose the name Faber because we believe winemaking is a craft, a skill learnt but never perfected.
Our dream is to grow regional distinctive grapes and craft wines that are rich and flavoursome and complement them with great food.
The property in Baskerville, in the Swan Valley, is 40km north east of Perth at the base of the Darling Scarp. Our vineyard grows on the perfect Western Australia “coffee rock” soil – shallow, low in fertility, with excellent water holding capacity. This along with dry hot summers has allowed us to grow low vigour vines and produce crops of ripe, highly flavoured grapes with little or no irrigation. The Swan Valley delivers wonderful ripe fruit, warm and concentrated flavours and soft tannins.
The winemaking focuses on achieving extraction, flavour and fruit sweetness. This creates structured wines that are flavoursome and drinkable, with the ability to develop and improve in bottle.
We focus on attention to detail, doing whatever it takes to ensure the quality of our wines. When suitable, we use oak to provide highlights to our fruit characters, and when it comes to blending we are ruthless in culling any wine that does meet a our own high standard. Our goal is to be seen as a winery that consistently produces eye catching wines that are competitively priced and consistent in their quality.
We were determined to control our own destiny so we took the plunge and purchased our property in 1997 to establish our own vineyard and winery. We planted our first vines – Shiraz – in spring 1998 and made our first wine in 2000. We now make verdelho, chardonnay, shiraz, muscat and petit verdot from our own vineyard in the Swan Valley. We also make occasional wines from other regions, particularly from chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. We built our own winery in 2005; prior to that we used other wineries in which to make our wines.
John had wanted to be a winemaker since high school. John studied winemaking at Roseworthy Agriculture College straight after leaving school in 1981. 2012 will be John’s 30th vintage, having worked in wineries in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, California and obviously here in Western Australia. His main interests lie in making the wines that typify the Swan Valley, particularly aromatic full flavoured verdelho and warm richly flavoured red wines, and inspired by a spell in Rutherglen, he dreams of making world class fortified liqueur muscat. Owning and running his own vineyard and winery allow John to follow his winemaking dream from growing the grapes and make the wines he loves, to enjoying offering them to winelovers.
John was winemaker for Houghton Wines for six years and was responsible for such famous wines as the Houghton White Burgundy, Moondah Brook Cabernet Sauvignon and the rare and special “Jack Mann” reds.
While establishing Faber Vineyard he taught Oenology at Curtin University for a six year spell, and since 1998 worked as a winemaking consultant to many Western Australian wineries, notably Ferngrove, Upper Reach, Chestnut Grove, Sittella and Western Range.
John has been responsible for many gold medal and trophy wining wines since 1985. Notable results include the 1998 Tucker Seabrook Perpetual Trophy for the Best Show Wine Exhibited at Major State Wine Shows within the preceding 12 months, and remarkably the MacQuarie Bank Perpetual Trophy for Best Wine of the Royal Sydney Wine Show in 1998, 2000, and 2003.
In 2007 John was awarded the Jack Mann Memorial Medal in recognition of outstanding contribution to the Western Australian wine industry. The Medal is awarded annually by the Wine Press Club of Western Australia. He was awarded the Di Cullen Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Wine Industry by the Wine Industry Association Of Western Australia in 2009.
All of this and some winemaking skill has translated into outstanding results for Faber Vineyard – recognised as one of Australia’s ten best new wineries in 2003 and one of ten “dark horses that have excelled themselves” in 2005 by James Halliday.
Jane learnt to appreciate a good red at a wine education class presented by John and they have ben together since. Jane has done much of the early planting and training of the vineyard. She has also worked for Lamonts and Darlington Winery Restaurants. Jane’s home cooking has been enjoyed by our guests at our regular winery events.