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. We also farm a biodynamic vegetable garden, which supplements the organic and biodynamic produce in the Cullen Restaurant.

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It is the aim of Cullen Wines to minimise the impact of our activities on the global environment. To compensate for our emissions created from vehicles, tractors, forklifts, LPG use and air travel, Cullen Wines engages the Carbon Neutral Men of Trees programme to measure, reduce and offset our climate change impacts.

Cullen Wines have been voluntarily offsetting their carbon emissions since 2006, buying credits almost exclusively for projects in WA which focus on pulling carbon emissions out of the atmosphere. Over the past nine years, Cullen have been responsible for 3921 tonnes of CO2 offset through reforestation carbon sinks, and the planting of 1705 native trees and shrubs.

In 2010 they were featured in a Case Study by the Carbon Reduction Institute who said they had a ‘powerful case for demonstrating leadership to other wineries to take action to combat climate change’.

Cullen Wines’ carbon offset program is managed internally by Production Manager Andy Barrett-Lennard, who has done an outstanding job in maintaining the standard of Cullen’s Carbon Neutral status since 2006.

Cullen proudly display the logo of Perth-based company Carbon Neutral and are certified under the Carbon Neutral Pty Ltd methodology, which is held to the highest standard.

Carbon Neutral conducts its assessment of Cullen’s GHG emissions inventory in accordance with the GHG Protocol as adopted under the Commonwealth government’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).

These principles are consistent with those outlined under the Australian and International Standards including the GHG Protocol and AS ISO 14064: Greenhouse gases Part 1, 2 and 3.

The latest project Cullen contributes its carbon offsets to is an Australian first. Through Carbon Neutral, Cullen Wines’ offsets since July 2015 have been Gold Standard, supporting the recently accredited Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor Project, 400 kilometres north of Perth.

Not only is this the largest biodiverse reforestation carbon sink project in Australia, but recently it was awarded the prestigious Premium Gold Standard certification by the Geneva-based Gold Standard Foundation, becoming the only project in Australia to have done so.

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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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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 here

See the Cullen Wines Action Plan here