Valley love affair
JOHN Griffiths and Jane Micallef have had a 20-year love affair with the Swan Valley.
In 1997, they borrowed money to establish Faber Vineyard.
It’s been hard work for the husband and wife team, but through their journey they have grown to love the culture of the wine growing region and contributed to the evolution that has seen it become a highly regarded wine region.
To celebrate Faber Vineyard’s 20th anniversary, celebrations will be held from 11am to 5pm on Sunday, September 24 and Monday, September 25 over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
As well as live music there will be vineyard walkabouts and masterclasses throughout the day.
John was a highly respected winemaker at Houghton Wines when he and Jane took a huge gamble on the Swan Valley at a time when the region’s wines were not as well regarded.
“I’d worked in other hot areas and I had no doubt that quality wine could be made here,” he said.
The winemaking was a bit old fashioned in the Valley at the time, with hot sheds and old equipment, but the 1990s saw modernisation and there was an explosion of new wineries.
Grape varieties like the chenin blanc, verdhello, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon that were already well established in the Swan Valley were given a new lease of life.
John says he loves the character of the valley.
“I love there are all these winemakers who have been here many years, and often their father and grandfather before them, and I love the history and culture,” he said.
The first vines were planted in spring of 1998 and the first shiraz grapes harvested in February 2000. That 2000 Shiraz was released in January 2001 and quickly sold out.
The winery was built in time for the 2005 vintage and cellar door sales were opened in 2008. The barrel hall was built in 2010. The last of their land was planted to vines in 2016 and 2017, providing 11 acres in total.
Faber Vineyard’s wines have a track record of winning awards.
Australia’s leading wine critic James Halliday recognised Faber as one of Australia’s 10 best new wineries in 2002 and one of 10 ‘Dark Horses’ to watch out for in 2006. He rated Faber’s current release 2014 Reserve Shiraz as gold medal standard.
Faber Vineyard’s John Griffiths.