In 1965, Kevin and Diana Cullen were exploring other uses for their land in Wilyabrup in the Margaret River region, besides the raising of cattle and sheep. Their friendship with Dr John Gladstones- an expert in soil management and crop production at the University of Western Australia- proved vital, as he had identified Margaret River as an ideal spot for the growing of grapes, due to climatic similarities with some of the best wine regions in the world, such as Bordeaux. In 1966, Kevin and Diana, along with some of their friends, decided to plant some test vines, though unfortunately they were poisoned due to a misunderstanding, whilst Kevin and Diana were away. In 1971 they started again, this time using their own land, and those vines are still there today. In 1995 an adjacent plot of land was planted, named the Mangan Vineyard, which is farmed biodynamically, and both vineyards are used exclusively for Cullen wines. In 1989, Vanya Cullen, Kevin and Diana’s daughter, was appointed Chief Winemaker, and she has continued her parents’ interest in experimentation by investigating the soil and different trellis techniques for the vines.
Cullen produce one of Australia’s best cabernet merlot blends, named Diana Madeline in honour of the brand’s founding winemaker, which has consistently received stellar reviews from wine critics due to its depth, richness and length, allowing it to cellar for decades. In addition to the reds, Cullen is known for its superb chardonnays, such as the Kevin John, and the Kevin John Legacy series, from low-yielding vines, which can be cellared for at least 15 years. For the budget-conscious, Cullen also produce a range of reds, rosés and whites, with evocative titles such as ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’, ‘Dancing in the Sun’, and ‘Amber’. More information on Cullen and their superb wines can be found on their website.