the winemaker

Edgar Vales

I was born in France, grew up south of Lisbon and moved with my family to Sydney at the age of 15. 

In Portugal, wine was part of everyday life - a thing that my parents shared with family and friends. Some of my earliest, and happiest memories are of picking grapes with my dad and uncles so they could make wine.

When I finished school, I studied science and worked as an environmental chemist, but it didn't take long to realise that what I really wanted to do was make wine.

After studying Wine Science at Charles Sturt University, I headed back to Portugal to work a summer at Adega Cooperativa de Borba, perhaps the largest and most innovative Co-op in Portugal. That exposed to me a diverse range of grape varieties that I had never known about before. I also had the chance to learn about several traditional and ancient winemaking techniques.

Returning home to Australia, I worked in the Clare Valley in South Australia and took up my first job as a winemaker in the Hunter Valley. We have lived here for more than 15 years and I have had some amazing experiences, working with a number of the region’s most established and respected winemakers.

Vales Wines is a simple concept - I just want our wines to be a little different, really accessible and drinkable.

I achieve this by sourcing grapes that are carefully and sustainably grown, making sure they are harvested at the right times and utilising winemaking techniques that are not too forced. I like to keep things simple and not impose too much on the grapes.

There's science in it, but also a feel. People have been making wine for centuries. There is something simple about it.

Vales Wines is also, importantly, a family wine - and my wife Eva and daughters Claudia and Alexandra are equal stakeholders in this adventure. They are my greatest supports - and greatest critics. They are never scared to tell me the truth and they keep me real.  

Our girls have grown up in the Hunter Wine Country. Eva, who is an environmental scientist, has taught me a lot about how we can and should produce wine in ways that are kinder to the planet. We strive to be environmentally sustainable – from the grape growing stage to the packaging and distribution of our wines.

When I can rustle them up, they are also my working crew. In fact, I got them out there with me picking the very first batch of the 2019 Barbera, which will be the first of many vintages to come.

I look forward to sharing our wine journey with you and I hope you enjoy our wines.