James E. Faber ~ Wine Industry Veteran ~ Passes Away

UPDATE: the (true) celebration of Jim’s special life:

When:  Saturday, May 14  2:00 p.m. until whenever
Where:  The Elks Club
450 Post Street,  3rd floor
San Francisco, CA  94102

James E. Faber passed away early on Saturday morning, April 16, 2011. Jim has been battling cancer, and couldn’t make this round… He fought the final chapter of his life with dignity and hope.

We all knew him as “Jim”… a most dignified and passionate man. He was one of the most generous, kind, and respectful people that I’ve met in the wine industry. And… we’re going to miss Jim terribly.

I first met Jim Faber while working for Foppiano Vineyards. Jim started working for the Foppianos long before I arrived. From being their sales manager, he segued to San Francisco Wine Exchange, working with Hugh Thacher. In that process, he didn’t leave Foppiano, he simply brought Foppiano to Hugh’s company, which has continued to sell Foppiano’s wines as their marketing and sales agents since the 1970s.

Jim’s wife Stephanie wrote a most poignant Email, entitled Farther On Up the Road, and she has shared this image of Jim.

She notes, “‘Farther On Up the Road’ was one of Jim’s favorite Eric Clapton songs.”

Why am I not surprised? I’m reminded of Billy Joel’s song, “Only the Good Die Young.”

I feel that I can share Stephanie’s with you, because there are many people all over the world who knew Jim and will be missing him. This is Stephanie’s message to you all… with a touch of humor that’s delightful:

For all the rest of us left without him to help us along, I know Jim would want you to hoist of glass of champagne (only the good stuff, please) hit a long ball down the fairway, take a walk on the beach, or think about him hiking up Mt. Tallac overlooking Lake Tahoe.  He will always be with us.  I know I don’t have to tell you that.  It’s a given.

Jim Faber was one of the quiet people in the wine business. You won’t read stories about him, like you will for proprietors, grape growers, or winemakers; however, he’s as important as they all are, because he worked on everyone’s image, built many, many brands, and expedited the all important sales aspects for so much wine it would make your head spin to fathom the figures.

His work with SFWE…

Founded in 1975, SFWE is the oldest US-based, independent wine marketing company, headquartered in San Francisco.

Jim has helped to handle the national sales of family owned, super premium California wineries from different appellations in California, when it began. Over time, SFWE’s focus expanded to Washington State and three different appellations in New Zealand, three in Argentina, and all the wines of the Gonzalez Byass family (founded in 1835) in Spain. Jim was there for all of these challenges and growths of the company.

Jim worked closely with founder-owner Hugh Thacher and Phil Nugent, the national sales manager. He served as vice president who managed the support team in their local office. He helped to oversee a sales and distribution network of nine regional employees, 20 regional brokers, and more than 150 wholesalers across the country.

His network is worldwide, as I’ve said, and his loss is going to be felt around the globe…He was that wonderful and will live in our hearts forever.

A memorial service is being planned for a month from now. I’ll add it to this blog posting, once I have details.

I’m going to take Stephanie’s suggestion and go for a walk on the beach with some bubbly… Here’s to you, Jim, and to all we shared while you walked amongst us!


8 Responses to “James E. Faber ~ Wine Industry Veteran ~ Passes Away”

  1. Stephanie Faber says:

    Thank you Jo!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    You’re welcome, Stephanie. It’s the least I can do. It may warm your heart to know that this story has had many, many people reading… More that most days. Jim is very loved.

  3. Jim’s kindness and generosity were boundless. Mutual friends introduced us years ago – I was a wet-behind-the-ears kiwi trying to figure out how to sell wine in the USA. Jim willingly spent hours of his time tutoring me in the intricacies of US distribution whenever I visited, even though he was not looking for another NZ brand back then. He will be sorely missed.

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Philip, That was so his nature, wasn’t it?

  5. Paul Moe says:

    October, 2007. Working for the SFWE at the time, in New York City for the Wine Spectator’s annual shindig. I ended up betting with the Krug Champagne rep on the outcome of the `07 World Series. If the Marlins won, she would send me some Krug Champagne. If the Yankees won, I would send her some Justin Isosceles. The Marlins won. I now have the reason to open my 1988 Krug. I’ll pour the last glass for you, Jim. Cheers.

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    Class act, Paul… Both of you.

  7. I worked for SFWE for about 4 years and Jim was a great guy to work for. Was very sad to hear about this. Thanks for writing this great post Jo. I think of Jim and the SFWE family often.

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks for commenting, Jon. I know that Jim’s family will appreciate hearing from you.

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