Winemaker Vanya Cullen is one of the region’s trailblazers leading the way in biodynamics with Cullen Wines becoming Australia’s first certified carbon neutral winery.
Ms Cullen has turned Cullen Wines into a complete biodynamic winery by adopting programs to eliminate chemical use on their property.
Requiring financial investment and hard work, the program has paid off with the winery saving the equivalent of 9042 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Six years since they started implementing the programs, the soil quality and quality of fruit has improved so much, they no longer add anything to manipulate the wines.
“It is completely natural and when people talk about natural wine it has to be certified organic in the vineyard you cannot have chemicals,” she said.
“All of our wines are natural and I do not think there is anything made quite like it anywhere. They taste of the land and they are energetically of the land.
“They talk about vibration of the land and wine, because there is nothing added or taken away from them they are very much as natural as they get – made by nature – literally.” Ms Cullen said they had always been curious about how much carbon they where sequestering through their crops and healthy soils.
“We measured the last five years of carbon sequestration into the soil and we just found out it is more than what we were emitting in our carbon neutral certification,” she said.
“It is significant in terms of the possibilities of things on the planet, we have sequestered more than 200 tonnes than we were emitting.
“It is pretty exciting to have that result given all the hard work we have done in the vineyard.”
Ms Cullen said it was a complete change in wine making, and after 30 years as Cullen’s senior winemaker she had seen the whole process go from from minimal chemical inputs – to organic – to biodynamic.
“Looking back over that history in what things have made a difference, the microsoil and microbiology soils gave a balance in the soils, then a health and balance in the vines, then in the grapes,”
– Varnya Cullen
“We have gone from a situation where we were adding acid and yeast and malolactic culture, enzymes etc. We were adding all these things to make great wine, to now, where we do not have to add anything.
“It would be wonderful to have everybody in the whole region become organic or go chemical free, and biodynamics is just that bit extra which gives that sense of beauty to things.”
Soil Dynamics organic agronomist Anthony Quinlan has worked with Cullen Wines to transition the winery into becoming carbon neutral.
Mr Quinlan said in that time they retested the soil every year and put programs together to focus on improving soil health and biodynamic processes.
“I graphed up the last six years and this year the latest results showed some sites had more than doubled the carbon that was being stored in the soil,” he said.
The programs put in place at the winery has meant more carbon is locked into the soil.
“It is a three to five year process when you implement these things because it is a living system, a big digestive system.” Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said there was no doubt that Cullen Wines has long been a leader in sustainability, being the first winery in Australia to be certified carbon neutral.
“Under the stewardship of Vanya Cullen this winery’s reputation continues to build, with the winery now being carbon negative, meaning they are giving back more to the environment than they are taking from it which is a credit to the Cullen’s team.”