The Journey of the Pratten Family
Capel Vale was established in 1974 by Sydney radiologist Dr Peter Pratten and his wife Elizabeth when they first planted grapes by the Capel River between Bunbury and Busselton in Western Australia's South-West.
The site, known as the 'Stirling Vineyard', was originally a stone fruit orchard and its rich red alluvial loam soils over limestone made it a perfect viticultural site. It grew to become the location for the winery, cellar door, and award-winning restaurant. These were exciting experiments for the Pratten family, with every vine hand planted and tended, and all the wines hand-made on-site.
After several vintages, it became apparent to Peter Pratten that the soils of the Capel area (now recognised officially as the Geographe grape growing region) were well suited to the chardonnay and merlot varieties, and it became his passion to determine the best region in south Western Australia for each of the main premium grape varieties at the time. Later trials also proved positive for Petit Verdot, Verdelho and Viognier in this region.
As a result, Capel Vale has invested in prime viticultural land in Mount Barker for the production of shiraz and riesling, in Pemberton for chardonnay, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, and in Margaret River for cabernet sauvignon.
Since the first commercial vintage in 1980, the winery has grown progressively, and now is one of the larger family owned producers in Western Australia, exporting to over 20 countries. The winery also boasts one of the south-west's most advanced bottling facilities, and contract bottles for around 30 producers around the Geographe and Margaret River regions.
Capel Vale has enjoyed many years of stable and focused management, with Peter and Elizabeth still at the helm. Since 2003, they have been joined by their son Simon, who now manages the day to day operations of the business in his role as Chief Executive Officer.