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.
“Winemaking is now in the hands of Vanya Cullen, daughter of the founders; she is possessed of an extraordinarily good palate. It is impossible to single out any particular wine from the top echelon; all are superb.” – James Halliday
Over the past decade, Vanya has transformed her family firm from one of Margaret River’s best into one of the country’s premium boutique wineries. Cullen Wines while remaining family owned has since evolved making quality wine from a certified Biodynamic, Carbon Neutral and naturally powered estate. Exemplary viticulture lies at the heart of her success but so, too, do care and thorough attention to detail in the winery.
“At the very top of the quality and ethical tree you might drink wine from the biodynamically certified vineyards of Cullen from Margaret River” – Tim White
Vanya Cullen was the winner of the 2000 Qantas/The Wine Magazine Winemaker of the year. She was the third recipient of this prize, the first Western Australian and the first woman to win the award. Vanya has judged at wine shows in every major city in Australia. In 2008, she was awarded the UK Drinks Business Magazine “Woman of the Year 2008” and in 2011 the “Green Personality of the Year” for her commitment to the wine industry and for demonstrating that you can operate a successful business while looking after the environment. 2013 was Vanya’s 30th year of winemaking at Cullen Wines and 2014 celebrated Vanya’s 25th anniversary of becoming Chief winemaker at Cullen Wines.
Vanya was inducted into the Australian Business Women’s 2015 Hall of Fame which honours and celebrates Australian female business owners who have been exemplary in their industries, are trailblazers and demonstrate inspiring and aspiring business journeys.
Adam trained as a Chartered Accountant in the South West of England before moving to Australia in 2008, continuing within the public practice environment. During these public practice years, Adam’s focus was on business advisory services for privately held businesses, including several wineries both in England and Australia.
In late 2009, Adam moved into the commercial sector in the marine and oil & gas service industries, holding CFO, General Manager and Director positions. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and the Governance Institute of Australia and is also a Chartered Tax Adviser.
Adam moved to the Margaret River region and joined Cullen Wines in early 2019.
“It’s a pleasure to be part of the Cullen team and our pursuit of capturing the story of the produce, the place and the people into every bottle. Our respect for the ongoing health and vitality of the land and environment underpins all areas of the business and allows us to naturally produce exceptional wines with a true sense of place.”
As Vineyard Manager, Matt’s role is to guide the vineyard team and work in collaboration with the winemakers to manage balanced, healthy soils and vines that produce pure and clean fruit which show distinction and uniqueness to the Cullen Wines vineyards.
With an upbringing in broad acre livestock and cropping, Matt was drawn to the Margaret River region and began working in the vineyards from the age of 17. After a number of overseas trips and travels to snow fields, working vineyards and vintages in wineries both locally and overseas, exchange programs to France, Bachelor studies in Science and Agribusiness, learning from Latin American soil and plant health experts, Matt brought all of his experience and knowledge to Cullen Wines.
“What I enjoy the most about working here is the Cullen philosophy; that they are custodians of such a beautiful site and a clean and healthy environment, buzzing with life – the farm, the people, the produce, the lunches, the sundowners and being so close to an amazing coastline.”
Nicolas is responsible for cellar door sales at the winery, and for creating the food and wine programme. He hosts private tours, tasting and food and wine flights and impresses guests at Cellar Door with his extensive wine knowledge.
Nicolas is originally from le Mans in France, which is close to Jasnieres (a district in the Val de Loire region). After finishing a Hospitality degree in Blois, Nicolas moved to the UK for three years and started work as a sommelier at Ashdown Park Hotel. In 2001 he moved to Sydney and spent over a decade working for restaurants and five star hotels; Banc, Observatory Hotel, Shangri-La and Park Hyatt. After travelling to Margaret River several times, Nicolas decided to move West for a breath of fresh air. Being familiar with Cullen wines and a keen follower it made perfect sense for him to join the Cullen Team.
“It is fantastic to be part of a very special team and obviously the biodynamic farming is a very special aspect. I enjoy talking about Cullen’s unique and exciting wines which are a true reflection of the terroir.”
Jaimie’s role at Cullen is to maintain and foster the famous biodynamic gardens and grounds at the winery, including the unique Spiral Garden, which together provide the extraordinary fresh produce direct to the kitchen. Jaimie is passionate about Cullen’s biodynamic approach to the gardens, and uses his skills and knowledge to constantly improve the Cullen produce.
Originally from South Africa, Jaimie’s background is in construction, landscaping, agriculture and horticulture and has always been interested in growing food using natural and sustainable systems. He ensures that the Cullen garden is flourishing with fresh seasonal products and the grounds are always looking their best.
“I admire the fact that we are growing food for people to consume and the biological systems we use to maintain healthy soils and symbiotic relationships throughout the business.”
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 to the Cullen team in 2011 to work as part of the sales team in cellar door. 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.”
Executive Chef Iain Robertson comes to Cullen Wines with more than 17 years of experience from some of the finest restaurants in WA. Since 2004 Iain has made the beautiful south west of WA his home, and there’s very little of the local fare and suppliers that he has not sampled, prepared and presented, with stunning results and to rave reviews.
For six years Iain worked at Xanadu Wines in Margaret River, first as Sous Chef, and then as Executive Chef, where his list of awards and accolades is as long as it is impressive, including six Gold Plate Awards.
Combine Iain’s passion for South West fare, his time spent indulging his love of Italian cooking in Tuscany, his professional knowledge of fine wine, his creative flair, with access to the extraordinary biodynamic produce at the Cullen Estate, and it’s a match made in heaven. As well as experimenting foraging and growing his own edible garden, Iain loves to innovate with refreshing combinations of flavours and promises to deliver meals that are a perfect complement to Cullen’s exceptional biodynamic wines. Whether it be Modern Australian, Asian or Italian inspired, Iain’s menus are an exciting addition to Cullen Wines.
“I’m very excited at the prospect of embracing Cullen’s organic & biodynamic philosophies and creating dishes inspired by the produce from the vineyards’ biodynamic gardens.”
Sara started her hospitality career as a casual waitress in Italy at the young age of 15, working in local trattorias and restaurants that offered traditional Italian cuisine. She later moved into a high end restaurant in Milan where she was promoted to Supervisor and Assistant Manager.
In 2011 Sara embarked on a degree in Linguistic Mediation and Cultural Communication majoring in Chinese and English studies. This included a summer school stint in Beijing in 2013. She graduated with honours in December 2014.
Sara joined the Cullen team in November 2015 as a casual waitress. Sara proved herself to be a valued employee and in July 2016 Cullen was able to employ Sara full time as the Functions and Events Coordinator under the visa sponsorship program. Sara has furthered her responsibilities here at Cullen by taking on the Restaurant Manager role in 2019.
Chris Hofmann: Accounts Manager