Cullen Wines

Carbon Positive

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.

‘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.’

In addition to this, since 2014 Cullen Wines have embarked on a major Biodynamic soil and plant health program to increase the organic carbon contents of the vineyard soils. This is a process of supporting the carbon cycle, whereby atmospheric CO2 is being up taken by the plant leaves and being deposited in the soil via the plants root systems. Compost additions and planting multi species cover crops in the vineyard mid-rows also contribute significantly to this process. As a result, Cullen Wines have seen a dramatic increase in their soil carbon uptake through soil tests that are completed and verified on an annual basis by an independent 3rd party, Carbon West (this is a process that involves soil samples being taken from the Cullen vineyard to a depth of 30cm across multiple test pits, as per the industry standard for SOC measurement). The average soil carbon increase from 2014 to 2019 in the Cullen vineyard was 1.9%, which equates to approximately 79.5 tons of Carbon/Ha or alternatively 3.67 tons of CO2. Thus 9042 tons of CO2 equivalent units were sequestered on the Cullen property, or approximately 1808 tons per annum from 2014 to 2019. This is above Cullen Wines annual GHG carbon emissions across all scopes, thus Cullen Wines is now a certified Carbon Positive winery!

The fiscal investment Cullen Wines has put into the environment since 2006 has been approximately $25000 per year, largely through the Carbon Neutral tree planting offset activities. Now, as a ‘Carbon Positive’ winery the need to plant trees to offset carbon emissions is no longer required, so this spend has been reduced to approximately $5000 per year and is mostly in administration and consultancy fees.

‘We are so lucky to be in such a beautiful location here in WA, and the wonderful soil gives us our extraordinary wines, so it important for us to know we are caring for the earth and doing no harm in what we do. It’s become a way of life for us. We are very excited that other wineries are also choosing to become Carbon Neutral as this is a significant commitment and we applaud their efforts.’ Vanya Cullen.

Commitment to Climate Change

Looking towards the future, Cullen Wines have begun a land management strategy under the Federal governments Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) using the Carbon Farming Initiative methodology.

Cullen Wines is the first winery in WA to be approved for funding as part of The Western Australian State Government’s $15 million Carbon Farming and Land Restoration Program. This program aims to realise agriculture’s potential to sequester carbon in the landscape and contribute to growing the WA carbon market. Projects will deliver environmental, social and economic co-benefits, and contribute to long-term environmental sustainability.

This grant will help support and continue our ‘Cullen Wines Wilyabrup Soil Carbon Project’ registered with the Federal government’s ERF initiative. This is being done on some pastoral land on the west side of Caves Road on the Cullen property. Here Cullen will sow mid-autumn and late spring multi-species cover crops of up to 12 different species. There is also a commitment to obtain native seeds as they become available and/or practicable. Through the registration of this ERF project, any increase in SOC will become a publically tradable Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) through which can then further offset the emissions of the business into the future.

In November 2020, the International Wineries for Climate Action invited Cullen Wines to become an IWCA member in recognition of their commitment to climate action and environmental practices. IWCA is a collaborative working group of committed wineries taking a science based approach to reducing carbon emissions. More information on IWCA can be found here.

Solar Power

We also pay a premium to purchase 100% Synergy Natural Power through the state electricity grid.

As far back as 1971 when Cullen Wines was first established in Wilyabrup, they believed in minimal intervention. In 1998 they became totally organic, and 2003 they achieved their A Grade Organic Certification, before being certified A Grade Biodynamic in 2004 under Chief Winemaker and Managing Director Vanya Cullen. In addition to being 100% carbon positive and water self-sufficient, Cullen are also solar powered up to 40% through their own panels and the remainder through Synergy Natural Power, which is generated via solar and wind renewable sources.