As one of the founding wineries, we have access to some wonderful history of the area. This is a letter that Dr Kevin Cllen received to an invitation he sent to Bill Jamieson to attend a town meeting that Dr Gladstones was also invited to, to discuss the concept of growing table grapes in the region. The meeting was attended by over 100 people, including the press and local farmers. We also have the press clippings from the results of this meeting, which also makes for fascinating reading as it reveals a very interesting response from the government of the time!
Kevin and Diana had invited Dr Gladstones to their property to ask his advice on growing lupins (they knew he had done previous study on this) and he told them to grow grapes instead – this was in the spring of 1965 before his first paper ‘The climate and soils of south-western Australia in relation to wine growing” was printed. Kevin and Diana were very excited by the idea and being the type of people they were, wanted to share this idea with as many residents of Margaret River as possible – hence the motivation to organise the town meeting.
We particularly wanted to share this with you, as some of the 50 year promotional information states ‘The first to respond to Dr Gladstones’s paper was Perth cardiologist, Tom Cullity who planted at Vasse Felix in 1967’ which doesn’t accurately reflect what happened at the time. His was the first successful commercial planting, but there were test trial plantings prior to that, including one that the Cullens were involved with in 1966, as well as a lot of work behind the scenes for even this first successful planting of Cullity’s to happen.
One of the key things that our historic records highlight is the shared knowledge and collaborative nature of the early wine pioneers. In a Busselton Oral History document, Dr Tom Cullity himself states that he couldn’t have done what he did without the help of Dr Cullen. So although Dr Cullity is singled out mostly in the promotions, it would be more accurate to reflect also on many others who were intimately involved in the beginnings of the modern wine industry in Margaret River.