Cullen Wines

Cullen Wines


In early 1965 Kevin and Diana started considering other uses for their land and they came up with the idea of lupins. They decided to get in touch with Dr John Gladstones whom they had known for some time, who was at the time senior lecturer at the University of Western Australia and had studied lupins in his post graduate research.

More recently however, Dr Gladstones had put considerable work and research into his 1965 paper titled ‘The climate and soils of southwestern Australia in relation to vine growing’, which was closely followed by his 1966 paper titled ‘Soil and climate of the Margaret River – Busselton area; their suitability for wine grape production’, where he identified the Margaret River region as having similar characteristics to the best wine regions in the world.

At the invitation of Kevin and Diana, Dr Gladstones visited their property in Wilyabrup in the spring of 1965, when his first paper was not yet printed. According to Diana, Dr Gladstones upon seeing their land said “Oh, you’re mad growing cattle and sheep, why don’t you grow grapes?” Diana and Kevin had thought about this idea since 1956, but this was the push they needed to go ahead and were quick to spring into action. In July of 1966 Kevin rallied support for a local meeting of interested parties in Busselton, inviting Bill Jamieson from the Agricultural Department to attend and Dr John Gladstones to speak. With Kevin’s encouragement and enthusiasm, this initial meeting garnered a good deal of support, with over 100 people in attendance.

Despite Kevin’s strong work commitment to the Busselton Community, he and Diana were keen to undertake a test planting with the vine cuttings they had requested from the Swan River Research Station. In 1966, they initiated and coordinated the planting of the first vines in collaboration with friends and colleagues. Unfortunately however, whilst Kevin and Di were away, due to a misunderstanding, these fledgling vines were sprayed with a poison and subsequently pulled out of the ground without their knowledge.

In 1971 Kevin and Diana again undertook vine planting, this time on their own land in Wilyabrup, where the current vineyard still operates today. In 1995, the adjacent Mangan Vineyard was planted and farmed biodynamically by the Cullen Estate. The two estates contribute exclusively to the Cullen vintages every year.

In 2005, the iconic Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot was elevated to the top Langton’s classification category of ‘Exceptional’ – reserved for just 11 Australian wines. The Kevin John Chardonnay 2007 was awarded the World’s Best Chardonnay at the 2010 Decanter World Wine Awards. In 2011, the Diana Madeline 2009 received awards for Jeremy Oliver’s Wine of the Year, Nick Stock’s Best Cabernet Merlot blend and Ray Jordan’s Best Cabernet Merlot. In 2014, The Diana Madeline 2012 received James Halliday’s award for Best Cabernet Blend, James Halliday Wine Companion 2015

Committed to biodynamic viticulture, Cullen Wines has evolved into an iconic winery that has always been focused on quality, integrity and sustainability at all levels of the business.

Dr Kevin John Cullen and Diana Madeline Cullen

A little known fact about the Cullen family is that their association with wine in Western Australia dates back to the 1880’s, when Kevin Cullen’s grandfather, Ephraim Mayo Clarke (1846 – 1921), purchased a small business and plot of land in Bunbury, Western Australia, where he started a store and winery.

He successfully produced the highly popular ‘Punchbowl’ wine which he sold through the family shop and as far afield as the WA Goldfields. Kevin’s mother Elvie and her nine siblings all worked at the winery. When Ephraim died, it passed into the hands of his only tee-totalling son, who left the vines unattended. They eventually went into decline and the land was sold.

Kevin Cullen grew up in Western Australia and studied medicine at the University of Western Australia, where he became the first recipient of a Doctorate of Medicine. He was an outstanding student and in 1941 was invited to Melbourne University to continue his medical studies. It was here that he met the enigmatic young Diana Adams. Diana was studying Physiotherapy and was at the top of her class and a popular student.

They were married in 1946 and moved to Tasmania where Diana’s family was well known and featured regularly in Hobart’s social pages. Soon after they were married, Kevin’s father Pat, who was living in Bunbury Western Australia and working as a doctor himself, sent word to Kevin that a doctor was desperately needed in Busselton. In 1947 Kevin moved to Busselton to become their local doctor and it wasn’t long before Diana joined him to work as a physiotherapist.

Their family quickly grew with the addition of Rick, Shel, Stewart, Digby, Ariane and finally Vanya.

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Vanya Cullen OAM

Vanya Cullen has been winemaking at her family’s Wilyabrup estate since 1983. She was appointed to Chief Winemaker in 1989 and Managing Director in 1999. During that time she has been rigorously experimenting in the vineyard (especially with soil and trellis management) and in the winery all the while looking to give her wines greater complexity. Her palate has been honed by judging throughout Australia and overseas, and by her continuous pursuit of a thorough knowledge of the wines of the world. In 2023, Vanya was awarded the Order of Australia for services to viticulture and oenology.

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Angela Gosden

Angela Gosden is General Manager at Cullen Wines and has been involved in the wine industry for the past 15 years, predominantly in Margaret River. Angela joined Cullen in late 2022 after a 3 year period working as General Manager at Pooley Wines in Tasmania. Angela started her winery career with Clairault Streicker in 2008, initially with the Martin family as Clairault Wines until John Streicker purchased the business in 2012, staying on until 2019.

Angela is a qualified accountant (CPA), and enjoys working with small business, driving performance and financial success. She is passionate about corporate governance, strategic planning, reporting, and enjoys working with a team to achieve business goals.

Angela has been actively involved on a volunteer basis in not-for-profit enterprises during her career, she enjoys giving back to the local community, predominantly in Chambers of Commerce with a term on the Margaret River Wine Industry Association board.

In her spare time Angela enjoys exercising with her friends, good food and wine, and spending time with her husband and dog ‘Lola’.

Andy Barrett-Lennard

Production Manager. After a career in hospitality sparked an interest in fine wine, Andy moved to the south west of WA in 2011 to continue his BSc in Oenology with Curtin University. He came on board in 2011 to work as part of the front of house sales team. After finishing his degree and completing several vintages in other wineries, both in Margaret River and in Denmark, he came back to join the Cullen wine making team at the end of 2016.

“It was always my goal to work with wine that reflects the land and place. Cullen wines was the icon in that regard, making some of the most honest and exciting wines in the Margaret River region. It has been an honour to come back and help to craft these wonderful wines. Cullen’s is a pretty special place.”

Ben Day

Head Chef. Ben starting cooking when he was 15, and 25 years on he still is.
Born and raised in the South West he completed his 4 year apprenticeship in Margaret River. Once qualified, he headed straight to London at the age of 19. During this time he worked in a high level ‘top end’ restaurant which sparked Ben’s love of seafood. 4 years later he returned home to Perth and worked for Vans, then ventured out and opened Il Lido. Ben was lured back to the South West by Knee Deep Wines where he designed and build their restaurant and kitchen.
Drawn the surf, good food, and beautiful beaches of Noosa, Ben took an extended sabbatical, then on his return to WA was rehired by Knee Deep where he achieved AGFG 2 Hats, and a 2-star rating from WAGFG in the restaurant. Ben has since worked for an extended time at Aravina. Now in 2022 he has joined the Cullen team, being drawn to the forward thinking, sustainable, ‘grow your own’ ethos, and the wines.
Dedicated husband and father, Ben now lives in Cowaramup with his wife Felicity and their 2 daughters; Violet (11) and Matilda (9).

Sian Warrick

Restaurant Manager. With a hospitality career spanning 35 years, Sian Warrick has well entrenched herself in the hospitality industry and earned herself much respect in the industry circles. Sian is married to hospitality stalwart Keith and together they have two, now grown up children, Sidney and Cooper.
Having spent her earlier years honing her skills in the UK in various roles, the most notable, working as Supervisor for Quartier Vert, in Bristol UK, being the official Event Caterer for HRH Prince Charles at Highgrove, his house in Gloucestershire.
In 2003, her family returned to Australia to reside permanently, where she made her entry back into hospitality in a number of roles including Restaurant Supervisory positions in the South West.
In 2011 Sian was appointed Restaurant Supervisor at Vasse Felix Wines in Margaret River, where she was initially acquainted with then Sous Chef, Ben Day. When Sian left Vasse Felix, was delighted to join newly appointed Chef Ben Day at Knee Deep Wines and then in 2015 was reunited again with Chef, Ben Day, who had taken up the position as Executive Head Chef at Aravina, where she held the Restaurant Supervisor position for two years before joining the Voyager Estate team in 2017 as Restaurant & Wedding Supervisor.
As opportunity arose, Sian was lured to Cullen Wines by Head Chef Ben Day, which is a testament to their mutual professional respect and her reputation in the hospitality industry.

Cristian Astudillo

Tastings & Sales Manager

Brian Martin

Vineyard Manager

Alex Roy

Export and Logistics Manager

Simon Dermody

Groundskeeper and Biodynamic Gardener

Ashley Sismey

Cellar Supervisor

Kim Seidler

Loren Joyce

Marketing and Events Coordinator

Bec Marshall

Administration Manager

Kim Van De Polder

Accounts Payable Officer.



Honouring the Legacy of
Diana Madeline and Kevin John Cullen

In 2016 Cullen Wines commemorated their 45th year of producing wines in Wilyabrup, Margaret River, and proudly introduced the inaugural Cullen Award for Excellence.

This award honours the contribution made to Western Australian wine by Dr Kevin John Cullen and Diana Madeline Cullen, who together founded Cullen Wines in 1971. They had an unwavering belief in the potential of WA to produce world class wines and were dedicated to achieving this and helping others in the industry to do the same, by sharing their knowledge and support.

The Cullen Award for Excellence was created to recognize and reward individuals, companies or institutions from anywhere in the world, who contribute in a positive way towards promoting the Western Australian Wine Industry under the individual banners of Quality, Integrity or Sustainability.

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Wilyabrup, History & Heritage.

Cullen Wines respectfully acknowledges the Wadandi people, past and present, traditional custodians of the land on which our wines are grown.

Cullen Wines sits upon the ancient soils of Wilyabrup, the place of red ochre, the “sweet spot” of the Margaret River wine growing region.

Dr Kevin John Cullen and Diana Madeline Cullen were ready to plant lupins in 1965 when a good friend Dr John Gladstones advised against it. He’d just completed a study on wine growing and knew the Cullens had the land to make the best quality wines.

Dr Gladstones described Wilyabrup as being the sweet spot of the Margaret River region, most favourable for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. It benefits from cold winds from the south and warm winds from the north. Gladstones’ now-famous 1966 report compared our climate to that of Bordeaux, and many regard him as the founder of Margaret River’s wine region.

Kevin John Cullen called the first grape growers meeting in Busselton and initiated trials with the Minchins, Sue and Geoff Juniper and other families involved.

Cullen planted vines in 1971, and our two Wilyabrup vineyards are certified biodynamic and carbon negative.

Wilybrup is a region in its own right, with distinct flavours and climate, and in 1999 Cullen and Moss Wood held the first sub regional tasting to celebrate the history and future of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grown here.