Women in Wine: Vanya Cullen
Vanya Cullen has been winemaking at her family's Wilyabrup estate since 1983. Vanya’s parents Diana and Kevin Cullen were pioneers in establishing the Margaret River wine region about 50 years ago, along with a handful of others, and she has built on this legacy through her passion for the land and its connection to her wine. A trailblazing winemaker, Vanya has been practising sustainability for years and Cullen Wines is certified biodynamic, as well as being a carbon positive winery. Vanya’s zeal is to make great wine in harmony with ‘mother earth’ and in rhythm with nature.
How did you get started in the industry and what inspired you to work in the wine industry?
I was born into the wine industry. My parents Diana and Kevin were visionaries and environmentalists who wanted to make the greatest Cabernet Sauvignon sustainably and look after the environment. It’s mum’s 100th birthday this year – she was a matriach, environmentalist and vigneron.
The journey has been a life of nature and wine, becoming a part of that, and 40 years later I am a certified biodynamic wine producer with a carbon positive business. Climate change is the existential crisis that is most important now and that wasn’t part of consciousness when I started in wine.
I would also like to acknowledge the Wadandi peoples, the traditional custodians of the land where we make our wine.
What qualities do you think it takes to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
Tenacity and passion
Do you have any role models or mentors who have been an important part of your career journey?
My mother Diana Madeline who would have turned 100 this year. She was a real visionary, matriarch and environmentalist who cared deeply about the world – its land and its peoples.
What are you most excited about in the Australian wine industry right now?
The possibility of authentic land care and hence the making of great wine, which is connected in a caring way, so what you take you give back to country. They are the best wines, and they connect to experience land and people.
In your career, which of your achievements stand out to you?
Becoming certified biodynamic and carbon positive – running a sustainable wine business that can mitigate climate change. However small the input!
What are some of your favourite highlights throughout your career in wine?
Drinking and tasting a Château Lafite 1865 double magnum with a Len Evans tasting group.