Dr Kevin John Cullen

1922 to 1994. By Ian Potter.

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.

While Kevin was practising in Busselton, he and Di were living on their property in Wilyabrup. Following a report from Dr John Gladstones outlining the potential of Margaret River as a quality wine region, Kevin and Di were involved in the first planting in Wilyabrup in 1966, and established the Cullen vineyard in 1971.

Kevin always had a great love of Cabernet Sauvignon and constantly referred to its need to have a steely backbone, which he insisted should be a characteristic of the wine made from this variety. He purchased many great wines from Bordeaux to obtain a clear image of the direction that the Cullen Wines Cabernet Sauvignon should follow. Despite his medical duties, he still managed to make the 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon for Cullen Wines.

Dr Kevin Cullen was a passionate believer in the potential for Margaret River to become one of the great areas for Chardonnay. He initiated the Cullen Wines Great International Chardonnay Tasting, to enable the wines from Margaret River to be compared with the great Chardonnays produced in other prime locations elsewhere in the world. Kevin felt that the lessons learnt from these comparisons would help Cullen Wines optimise the quality of the excellent Chardonnay fruit that was grown on their vineyards. Kevin would have been delighted at how successful “his” annual tasting has become, with every year booked out well beforehand. There is no doubt that this Chardonnay Tasting is now one of the stellar events in the Australian wine calendar.

Cullen Wines have decided to recognise Kevin’s pioneering contribution to the elevation of its Chardonnay to prime status by naming this wine the “Kevin John” and thereby form a formidable twin with the Diana Madeline, Cabernet Sauvignon blend named in honour of his wife. In 1994, Kevin became a richly deserved member of the Order of Australia for his services to medicine and wine.


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