Winegrowing began on the Cullen property in Margaret River over 40 years ago. Studies in the early 1960’s showed that Margaret River had some very special qualities. The climate was particularly suited to growing Bordelais varieties and in particular Cabernet Sauvignon. On the advice of eminent agronomist Dr John Gladstones, Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen were involved in the first planting of a trial acre of vines at Wilyabrup in 1966. The encouraging results of this led to the planting of 18 acres of vines on their sheep and cattle farm in 1971, including their first Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc were planted between 1976 and 1978.
While Kevin Cullen worked as a doctor to support the business, Diana Cullen supervised and managed the winery and become Chief Winemaker in 1981. Di made history in 1982 being the first woman to win a trophy in the Perth Royal Show. In 1983 she was joined by daughter Vanya, who was later appointed as Chief Winemaker in 1989 and Managing Director from 1999.
Sadly, Kevin passed away in 1994 and Diana in 2003, and our flagship wines are now named in their honour, being the Kevin John Chardonnay and Diana Madeline (Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot). Both Kevin and Diana have been awarded life membership with the Margaret River Wine Industry Association, and in 2003 the WA Wine Industry Association introduced the annual Diana Madeline Cullen Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to the WA Wine Industry in her honour.
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, and 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 focused on quality, integrity and sustainability at all levels of the business.
Dr Kevin Cullen was a man of enormous energy, originality and talent. He graduated from Melbourne University in 1946 and was the first recipient of a MD from the University of Western Australia. He entered General Practice in Busselton in 1947 and later established the famous Busselton Health Study. The latter aimed at obtaining ongoing data on the medical history of the members of the community, with a view to predicting the early signs of disease in people and thus an early treatment of those ailments. Read more here
Diana Madeline Cullen
1923 to 2003
It was once said that Diana Madeline Cullen was “an inspiration in our own time and that of future generations”. She lived every day with a passion to achieve as much as she could and she did so with modesty and style. In the eighty years that Diana graced the world, she pioneered and helped to establish the Margaret River wine industry, played a significant role in the conservation and ecology of the Margaret River region, was a dedicated wife and mother of six and, along with husband Kevin, contributed greatly to medical research in Western Australia. Read more here
Vanya Cullen has been working on the farm most of her life and 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. Read more here