Celebrating 50 Years of Cullen Wines

This year Cullen Wines, named The Real Review’s Top Winery of Australia 2020, celebrates its 50th year of sustainable wine growing in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen, the winery has built an outstanding reputation for biodynamic wines that receive great acclaim.

Di and Kevin’s youngest daughter Vanya celebrated 30 years at the winemaking helm in 2019, and in the same year received double ‘Winemaker of the Year’ honours at both the Australian Women in Wine Awards and the Halliday Wine Companion Awards. During her tenure, she has worked tirelessly to develop the winery, first introducing organic farming in 1998 and then, in 2004, becoming a fully certified biodynamic estate.

True to their philosophy of ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’, Cullen is the only carbon positive winery in the region, sequestering more carbon than they emit. All wines produced here are sourced from grapes grown on the Cullen and adjoining Mangan Vineyards in Wilyabrup, a sub-region of Margaret River. Of the winemaking, Vanya says “In the winery the wines really make themselves. We don’t add yeast or acid, and as a result the wines are the purest expressions of place.”

David Gleave recalls: “On my first visit to Cullen, just over 20 years ago, Di opened a bottle of 1983 Cabernet-Merlot for dinner.  She explained that she had kept quite a bit of that vintage as it had been slow to sell.  ‘It was the first vintage we added Merlot to the blend,’ she explained.  ‘As a result, people thought it was a cheap wine, as it was a blend rather than a varietal.’ The wine, at almost 20 years of age, was outstanding.  I felt grateful to the people who had turned their noses up at this modest blend (sold at $7.95 a bottle when it was released, I seem to remember Di saying), for their pursuit of what was then fashionable ensured there was some for me to taste two decades later. I remember, a few years ago, Vanya tasting the 2013 Diana Madeleine with Jancis Robinson in London.  When the wine was poured into her glass, Jancis raised it to her nose and said: ‘It’s what you want Margaux to be.’ When Jancis published her note, she concluded: ‘Dry finish and very neat and confident. The opposite of brash.’ Just like Di.”

Cullen has produced a video to mark their 50th anniversary, which can be viewed here.

And on 67 Pall Mall TV, Ronan Sayburn MS interviews Vanya Cullen in a wonderful video that is well worth a watch.