The annual Entwined in the Valley celebrates the things we hold dear here at We Love Perth: local produce, small business, community and passion. The four day event will take place from 4-7 October, and whilst food and wine are, naturally, the focus, the whole family can get involved with community, music and arts events too.
One of our favourite destinations in the Valley, and a must stop every time we head there, is Faber Vineyard. Established by wife and husband team Jane Micallef and John Griffiths back in 1997, Faber offer not only excellent wines, but a casual atmosphere in beautiful grounds where you can enjoy tasty platters of homemade fare.
John’s winemaking résumé is a long one. He learnt winemaking at Roseworthy Agriculture College which he attended straight out of high school and since then has worked across Australia’s wine regions as well as in California. It was during the six years he spent working for Houghton that he felt the pull to lay down foundations in the Swan Valley. “I was really enjoying the wine culture here,” he explains, “and the idea of owning our own small farm in the Valley evolved into a vineyard and winery, and Faber was born.”
So what is it about the Swan Valley that’s so special? For John and Jane, it’s the commitment from all the locals, that everyone is 100% committed to elevating the Valley’s unique geography, heritage, wine styles and customers. “It’s not glamorous, but it’s a passionate place and most of us have to work pretty damn hard to succeed – there are easier things to do – so we have a lot of respect for one another.”
The hard work is something John and Jane take in their stride. When asked what they love about their job, they ponder whether it even is a job. It’s more than that, it’s a way of life.
John’s passion for winemaking has always been strong, and he has always felt that the wines he has made whilst working for other people have been true to his own style. But being his own boss gives him the rest of his career to develop his current project. “I think the big difference [between working for others and working for myself] is that I’ll be at Faber for the rest of my winemaking life, and I’ve already made 19 vintages here, so I get to work on my wines over a very long time frame and that lets me continue to learn and evolve my winemaking with the result, I hope, that Faber’s wines get better and better.”
With Jane cooking up a storm and John on hand to chat as you taste his wines, the Faber team are very hands on with the business. For me, that’s one of the things that makes Faber special. John and Jane agree: “When our customers open a bottle of Faber sure, it’s a drink, but they know us and where the wine comes from and we trust this makes it even more satisfying.” A trip to Faber means you get to join in the journey of the business.
Other than getting to know their customers, John and Jane focus on making the best wine they can and being generous about it. This too I can vouch for. They credit their shared values in making them a good team both in business and in life.
For Entwined, Faber will be hosting Festival of the Grape on Sunday 7 October. Spend the day there, between 10am and 4pm, to enjoy wine tasting, vineyard tours, masterclasses, live music, door prizes and food. “The Festival of the Grape is about opening up Faber to show wine lovers what we do and what we are about.”
“There’s a lot of fun and interesting things that happen in a vineyard and winery and they are often cloaked in mystery and people who are interested in wine don’t really get to know about them or see them. We try to change that,” they urge.
Visitors can see how wines change over time, what they taste like when they are young and raw and when they have been aged for many years, as well as how they blend together. John will explain why he has chosen to specialise in Verdelho, Shiraz and Muscat varietals and what’s special about these grapes in our part of the world.
“If you love wine, if you are curious about wine, if you are even mildly interested in wine the Festival of the Grape will be an eye opener,” he promises. “And we’ve all got plenty of stories to tell!” John and Jane would love to keep the conversation going, so be sure to head on down and tell them we sent you.