Exploring our people, places and produce: The Cullen Restaurant

A paean to sustainable farming: The restaurant looks onto lush vineyards.
A paean to sustainable farming: The restaurant looks onto lush vineyards. 

Vanya Cullen has created a special place at her family's eponymously named Margaret River winery. As you absorb the sweeping views of lush, green vineyards, you're admiring Cullen's paean to sustainable farming. It's worth taking an extra minute (or three) to soak in the sight of peppermint trees dotted with native birds as well as local vineyards stretched across the rippled Margaret River landscape.

Mindfulness never felt so good. For Cullen, it's all about a natural harmony between you and everything around you at this pioneering vineyard. Acknowledged as the nation's first carbon neutral winery, there's evidence of the emphasis on sustainability in every detail of the estate.

For starters, Cullen is naturally powered using renewables such as solar and wind energy. They also work closely with the Carbon Neutral Men of Trees, to offset the carbon dioxide emissions created from using tractors, forklifts and the like. But the true magic of this focus on the natural world comes to fruition on the plate at the winery's restaurant.

An unobtrusive structure of local timber and granite, it rests peacefully amid the vineyard greenery where toqued chef David Hull uses the freshest of local produce to create magic in the kitchen.

There's a big focus on keeping the food miles to a minimum.

"All our produce is homegrown or local and certified organic,'' Hull says.

The restaurant is committed to local and organic produce.
The restaurant is committed to local and organic produce. 

"We have the luxury of going for a wander outside, picking out something fantastic and having it in the kitchen ready to prepare within half an hour.

"There's this uniqueness. We're different to other wineries. While others may have a herb garden, we're continually expanding - buying less and growing more. This is reflected in our changing menu. We already have three veggie gardens and are looking into an interactive garden soon."

Customers will have the chance to learn about biodynamic practices at the restaurant.

"There will be information boards so they can walk through the gardens and follow the lifecycle of the produce," Hull says.

"People can't believe how much we produce right here - it's a massive drawcard.

"We grow 90 per cent of the vegetables on-site and support the local farmers' market.

Across three gardens, 90 per cent of the vegetables are grown on site while lamb, pork and venison are all sourced locally, as are the wondrous Manjimup truffles.

We get our eggs from a local farm. We source lamb and pork 10 kilometres from the winery and the venison farm is just down the road."

As for Hull's personal favourites: "I love seasonal produce, ingredients that are only available for a short time but are really amazing. Local black truffles from Manjimup are only in season for 6-8 weeks, and I really like finger limes, too."

Recently harvested: Broccoli, carrots, fennel bulbs, sugar snap peas, Jerusalem artichoke, tatsoi, mizuna, rocket, beetroot, salad greens, herbs, edible flowers, radish

Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines.
Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines. Photo: Frances Andrijich

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