Sip, Sip, Hooray

Introducing Cullen Wines, a unique biodynamic and carbon-positive winery in the Margaret River region of WA
By Roger Fox

The flourishing vines at Cullen Wines in WA’s Margaret River region live in their own chemical-free world, where organics and biodynamics nurture their growth. And all that verdant foliage also absorbs a lot of carbon dioxide, helping the vineyard to reduce its carbon footprint beyond zero, to reach carbon-positive status – they’re now the first carbon-positive winery in the region.

Famous for award-winning wines, including their signature red, Diana Madeline (a Bordeaux blend), the vineyard is a family affair headed by second-generation winemaker Vanya Cullen. “For us, it’s all about quality, sustainability, integrity and family,” says Vanya. “That this family owned business is now globally respected, carbon positive and producing biodynamic wine is our greatest legacy.”

Since 2003, the vineyard has been certified A-grade Organic, meaning no chemical sprays are used, the vines are fed with organic compost rather than artificial fertilisers, and all grapes are harvested by hand.

Once upon a wine

One of the pioneers of the Margaret River region, Cullen Wines planted their first vines in 1971 at their site in Wilyabrup (they celebrated their 50th anniversary last year). The business was established by Vanya’s parents, Kevin and Diana Cullen, whose vision right from the very beginning centred on nurturing the soil and the land, to produce premium wines. So the vineyard’s transition to carbon-positive status is a natural extension of the journey and an affirmation of its founding philosophy of sustainability. Initially, the site was identified as being perfect for growing cabernet sauvignon grapes, but these days it produces a wide range of both red and white varietals. 

You heard it through the grapevine

Since 2003, the vineyard has been certified A-grade Organic, meaning no chemical sprays are used, the vines are fed with organic compost rather than artificial fertilisers, and all grapes are harvested by hand. The adoption of biodynamic practices in 2004 took things to the next level, and Vanya believes it’s critical to their success. “Biodynamics is like organics-plus,” she says. “We use mineral and plant substances, applying them when the planets are favourably aligned, to enhance the microbiology of the soil and thereby enliven the land, the vines, the grapes and the wine.”

The soil, she explains, has its own microbiome rather like the human gut, and it’s essential to keep it
in optimum health. 

Conquering carbon

The path to zero carbon emissions has encompassed all aspects of the business, from the grape growing to the production and bottling; even the vineyard restaurant plays its part. But it’s the role of the grapevines themselves that has been pivotal. Their biodynamic cultivation enhances their capacity to sequester carbon – to absorb CO2 via their leaves and deposit it in the soil via their root systems. “While sustainability is in every part of the business, carbon sequestration has been our biggest success in terms of our carbon footprint,” says Vanya.

It’s this success, combined with additional carbon offsetting, that has enabled Cullen Wines to move beyond ‘carbon-neutral’ status to the situation where today it offsets more carbon than it emits. This says a lot about nurturing the soil, the land and the environment. 

And we say cheers to that!


Cullen Wines is open for tastings seven days a week, 10am to 4.30pm. The restaurant is open for lunch Friday–Tuesday, serving dishes made from their own organic and biodynamic produce. Accommodation
is also available.

For further info, visit

How good is this wine!

Cullen Wines has become renowned the world over for its delicious drops.

Winemaker Vanya Cullen’s top picks for white wine lovers are the signature Grace Madeline Sauvignon Blanc, with its “white flower, pear, nettle, apple and gooseberry bouquet with luscious texture and vibrancy”, and the Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, which provides a “lively dance of lime and grapefruit on the taste”.

For those more partial to reds, Vanya suggests the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. “It’s so perfect for the winter months,” she says, “with a bouquet of varietal fruits, cigar box, ironstone and plum leading you to a palate of rich, dark chocolate and also mulberry.” Anyone joining us on cloud wine?

Look for the Cullen Wines range online at, or at licensed HFM stores.

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