In 2016 Cullen Wines commemorated their 45th year of producing wines in Wilyabrup, Margaret River, and proudly introduced the inaugural Cullen Award for Excellence.

This award honours the contribution made to Western Australian wine by Dr Kevin John Cullen and Diana Madeline Cullen, who together founded Cullen Wines in 1971. They had an unwavering belief in the potential of WA to produce world class wines and were dedicated to achieving this and helping others in the industry to do the same, by sharing their knowledge and support.

The Cullen Award for Excellence was created to recognize and reward individuals, companies or institutions from anywhere in the world, who contribute in a positive way towards promoting the Western Australian Wine Industry under the individual banners of Quality, Integrity or Sustainability.



The 3rd Cullen Award for Excellence was held on Saturday June 1st 2019 and attended by over 100 local, interstate and intrastate guests. MC Steven Castan introduced speakers Minister Libby Mettam MLA, John Jens and Rick Cullen, who paid homage to the Cullen Wines founders Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen. The highlight of the evening was when Vanya Cullen announced the winners of the 2019 Cullen Award for Excellence were the Horgan Family of Leeuwin Estate.

Tricia and Denis Horgan founded Leeuwin Estate in 1973 and their son and daughter Justin and Simone are now joint CEO’s of the winery. The award recognises the role the Horgan family play in promoting the excellence of Western Australian wine on the local, national and international wine scene, both through the outstanding excellence of their wine and also through the annual Leeuwin Estate concert series that brings thousands of tourists to Margaret River. Famously, the very first vintage of their Art Series Chardonnay was recommended as Best Chardonnay in the World by Decanter in 1982 and it sits in Langton’s classification of ‘exceptional’.



Saturday July 22nd saw a crowd of close to 100 guests turn out in their black tie and evening wear to celebrate this year’s Award dinner and presentation.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of this year’s recipient, Dr John Gladstones, who humbly accepted the honour to a standing ovation from the room. Dr Gladstones is credited with being the first to recognise the potential of Margaret River as an ideal wine growing region, with similar soil and climactic conditions to Bordeaux.

On July 21st 1966 Dr Kevin Cullen organised a town meeting, inviting Bill Jamieson of the Department of Agriculture in Perth to attend, and Dr Gladstones to speak about his findings to a group of farmers and interested locals, with the idea of garnering interest in developing test plots of vines.

51 years later, almost to the day, Dr Gladstones, accompanied by daughter Helen Gladstones returned to Margaret River to be celebrated for his untiring efforts in seeing Margaret River become the world famous wine growing region it is today. In his moving speech, Dr Gladstones paid tribute to the achievements of the Margaret River wine growers; “It is one thing to have an idea, and another to bring it to fruition. If you stick to that, your future is absolutely assured, you can be confident of that.”

Guests on the evening included James Halliday, his wife Suzanne Halliday, Nola Marino MP, Libby Mettam MLA and her husband Jonathan, Hon Barry House, Redmond Sweeney President of the Wine Industry Association of WA, Larry Jorgensen CEO of the Wine Industry Association of WA, Cath Oates President of the Margaret River Wine Association, Rob Broadfield food reviewer for The West Australian, representatives of the Margaret River Tourism Association, local winery producers and wine lovers from WA, interstate and overseas.



Legendary Wine Writer and Critic James Halliday AM announced as the Inaugural Winner for 2016

At a glittering black tie gala evening in July, a hundred esteemed guests enjoyed a wonderful three course meal and fine Cullen Wines whilst they reminisced and celebrated the contribution made to WA wines by Kevin and Diana Cullen. Ms Libby Mettam MLA and Member for Vasse opened the proceedings, and Vanya Cullen had the honour of announcing James Halliday as the inaugural winner, who received a standing ovation for his tireless work in promoting the wines of Western Australia.

The Cullen Award for Excellence will be an annual award, culminating in a formal gala dinner to name the recipient.

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