CULLEN WINES

PHILOSOPHY

Biodynamics

Put simply, biodynamic viticulture is a philosophy combining the maintenance of sustainable soil fertility and the recognition of the link between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos.

It is a method of farming that treats the vineyard as a living system, which interacts with the environment to build a healthy living soil that helps to nourish the vines and general environment.

Since 1971 when the Cullen Estate was planted, chemical intervention was minimal and the family’s concern for the environment paramount.

In 1998 the change to total organic viticulture was made. Diana and Vanya went intuitively towards healing the soil by putting back what had been taken out. Organics is about soil health – drains were put in, cover crops, and composting resulted in A Grade Organic Certification in 2003 being gained by the Biological Farmers Association (BFA) of Australia.

In 2003, whilst attending a Biodynamic Conference, Vanya Cullen decided that Biodynamics would add further to the holistic and natural approach to both vineyard and winemaking. Later in 2004 the Cullen Vineyard became certified A Grade Biodynamic by the BFA of Australia and the Mangan Vineyard and Winery followed in 2008.  Additionally, we have five biodynamic kitchen gardens which supply over 90% of the fruit and vegetables used in our carbon positive Dining Room.

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CARBON POSITIVE

It is the aim of Cullen Wines to minimise their impact on the environment in as many ways as possible.

One of the biggest impacts of any organisation is their greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory and its influence on climate change, one of the biggest disasters of this generation. To that end, Cullen Wines have engaged a Western Australian consultancy company, Carbon Neutral, since 2006 to generate full organisational GHG inventories according to the ISO standard 14064 (https://www.iso.org/standard/66453.html). These inventories covers all aspects of the business and is split into three scopes;

Scope 1: Direct emissions related to the release of fossil fuels. These are emissions generated through the burning of fuels for tractors and forklifts, through to refrigerant escape emissions and direct emissions from wastewater disposal and the creation of compost.

Scope 2: Emissions directly tied to electricity generation from power stations. Currently Cullen Wines generates up to 40% of their power from solar panels with a project to expand on this in the near future. The balance of their power is supplied by Synergy Natural power which is generated via solar and wind renewables, limiting Cullen’s scope 2 emissions.

Scope 3: Emissions that are harder to quantify. These are the indirect upstream and downstream activities associated with the business. Some examples of these are the inbuilt emissions in bought packaging – such as a glass, staff commuting and business travel, transport emissions, capital purchases and life cycle assessments of the individual products for sale.

From 2006 to the end of the 2017 financial year, Cullen Wines offset 7454 tons of emitted CO2 through the Carbon Neutral program in the Yarra Yarra diversity corridor, between Dongara and Geraldton in the mid-north of Western Australia. More information can be found here https://carbonneutral.com.au/yarra-yarra-biodiversity-corridor/).

‘Vanya and her team set a new benchmark in their dedication to the environment,’ said Kent, Executive Director of Carbon Neutral. ‘They have a strong history of matching their carbon offsets, and when you consider this is all done on a voluntary basis, the achievement is all the more impressive. They are one of the first companies to support the Gold Standard project, and certainly the first winery in Australia to do so.’

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Viticulture

Cullen follows the maxim that states that great wines are made in the vineyard.

Thus, prior to planting, extreme care is taken in choosing the best possible site. Fruit for all Cullen Wines is sourced exclusively from two vineyards, the Cullen Estate Vineyard and the Cullen Mangan Vineyard, both certified A Grade Biodynamic by the Biological Farmers Association (BFA) of Australia.

This fulfils the philosophies of quality, integrity and sustainability by having single vineyard sites grown using biodynamic techniques.

The soils at Cullen are old, granite and gravely sandy loam, overlaying lateritic subsoils. The vines are dry farmed, helping to ensure maximum fruit quality, and are both pruned and harvested by hand. Low yields enable the flavours of the grapes to develop fully.

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From the ground up

Wine can only be as good as the grape, the role of the winemaker is to act as caretaker to the fruit

Wine Growing

The Cullen winemaking approach is about connecting and working with nature to make the best quality wines we can.

Vanya Cullen celebrated her 30th year as senior winemaker in 2019 and acknowledges it has been a love affair of nature, the earth, family, friends and great wine.

Cullen wine comes from the heart of the land rather than the mind of the winemaker. Our job is to be custodian to the land, to acknowledge the Wadandi people as the previous custodians with respect, and to look after the ancient Wilyabrup soils.

Certified biodynamic, we add 500 preparation to our soil to create microbiologically active, intelligent soil.

We harvest the grapes on auspicious planetary aspects, usually about the moon, and press them in the winery with no additions at all. This is the purest form of wine making with respect to place, on some of the oldest, most beautiful land.

Wilyabrup’s Mediterranean maritime climate makes it possible to do that year in, year out, and have consistent quality grapes.

Some try to tweak nature to make it perfect. Vanya knows nature is perfect already.

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Recycling

In line with Cullen Wines’ continued dedication to sustainability, they are constantly looking for ways to lessen their impact on the environment. Recycling wherever possible throughout the winery and restaurant is another area where significant impact has be made.

Sustainable packaging initiatives that have already been implemented include the introduction of carbon reduced bottles. In 2013, 72% of wine bottled at the winery was packaged in carbon reduced bottles. Cardboard packaging is now purchased locally to reduce transport distances. Waste is segregated to make use of local waste recycling programmes.

Cullen Wines aims to minimise the impact of our activities on our environment by adopting the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines and the AWRI Code of Good Manufacturing Practice for the Australian Grape and Wine Industry.

Cullen Wines are a voluntary signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant, an initiative which encourages businesses to use more sustainable packaging, increase recycling rates and reduce packaging litter.

To qualify as a signatory, companies are required to maintain an Annual Report and Action Plan.

See the Cullen Wines Report and Action Plan here