Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

With Christmas and New Year fast becoming a distant memory I can finish the series of posts I began about our short sojourn in the beautiful South West region of WA at the end of our winter (see hereherehere and here for earlier posts). We have enjoyed coming down to this beautiful area for many years now. On our first visit, way back in 1992, we had a superb and memorable lunch at Cullen Winery in the Wilyabrup locality on Caves Road. Monsieur Le Chic decided some wine tasting was the order of the day, whilst I endeavoured to keep our 2 little girls occupied!

An elderly lady was standing by the bar and before I knew it she had asked to hold our younger daughter (9 months old at the time) – she was evidently an experienced baby minder because baby “Mlle”, normally something of a handful, happily smiled and cooed away to the delight of the old lady. The point to this preamble is that we were told in hushed tones by the bar staff (once she was out of earshot!) that this was the winery owner, “Mrs Cullen”. She and her late husband, Dr Kevin John Cullen, had overseen the first planting of vines on their property in 1966 and subsequently founded the vineyard in 1971. They were pioneers of the wine industry in the Margaret River region – award-winning “wine royalty” . The late Diana Madeline Cullen was the most humble unassuming person you could ever hope to meet and we have always treasured that interlude all those years ago! She led an amazing life, not only helping to establish the winery, but being the chief winemaker until her retirement in 1989 when she handed over her duties to her daughter Vanya. Along the way she raised 6 children! Her biography on the Cullen web page says she was once described as ” “an inspiration in our own time and that of future generations”.

Therefore we always make time for a lunch and a spot of wine tasting at Cullen whenever we’re down in that neck of the woods. On this brisk late winter’s day, we were not disappointed. We turned up mid week without a booking and part of the restaurant was taken up with a touring party. They were not obtrusive, however and we were rewarded with a lovely table for 2 overlooking the beautiful gardens and vines.

 

View from our lunch table at Cullen

View from our lunch table at Cullen

 

Produce is local and as much as possible is picked fresh from the vegetable garden. My fish stew, one of the daily specials was beyond superb, the sharing plate starter including locally caught sardines, wonderfully tasty and the desserts simply divine. All washed down with their beautiful wines. I can only say we have never had a bad meal at Cullen!

 

 

Naturally after such a superb repast, Monsieur felt it would be only right to sample some of the wines available for tasting, whilst yours truly “the designated driver” relaxed by the log fire. The information signs on the wall caught my eye – Cullen has been Certified A Grade Biodynamic since 2004 . I hadn’t really understood what this meant in practice before our visit but in addition to the information board, Monsieur was given a thorough explanation by the staff as he tried to decide which of the many wines on offer to buy.  Intrigued by the name, he decided to try their celebrated “Moon Opposite Saturn” wine. Planting, harvesting and wine production at Cullen are all conducted according to strict principles based amongst other things around lunar cycles and the position of the planets (hence the Moon/Saturn configuration).

 

 

 

 

As for Monsieur’s tasting deliberations he ended up with a mixed crate including a couple of bottles of the “Kevin John” Chardonnay – not normally a fan of Chardonnay but this one is very different in flavour to others I’ve tried. Monsieur’s wine collection back home also includes a few bottles of the “Diana Madeline” Cabernet Sauvignon, which is being cellared for future quaffing! Our curiosity piqued by talk of planets and moon cycles, we headed off into the grounds and gardens to discover more. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our visit next week!

 

Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

43 thoughts on “Lunar Cycles And Lunch At Cullen Winery Part 1

  1. Do you think having a catchy name can alter our perception ? When I’m at the supermarket, I always pick up what I find pretty when it comes to wine (it’s so bad ;-))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely Gin – I love looking at the pretty labels on the wine bottles too! It’s an important part of the strategy to sell the wine – having said that the flavour and taste is important too!!

      Like

      1. Yes, but in supermarkets.. difficult to test 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes that is the problem – you have to take pot luck to some extent in the supermarkets (or bottle shops here). I wonder if anyone ever tries to sample them on the shelves ..!!

          Like

          1. haha, I’m sure some people must have tried at one point

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Nothing would surprise me! Always find it amusing when I go with my dad to do his weekly shop at Sainsburys and we can buy our wine off the shelf! Here you can only buy wine from bottle shops – it is not allowed to be sold in supermarkets!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds and looks like the perfect lunch spot Rosemary, love the story about the owner and your daughter too, a special memory. Really interesting about the lunar cycles and their adherence to that as well, just told my husband about all this, he is the wine buyer in our house and has already been investigating Cullen wines, seems like we might be getting our own mixed crate!!

    Like

    1. It’s a wonderful spot Joy – no matter what the season it’s such a lovely place! We had no idea at the time who the lady was, who took such an interest in Mlle, all those years ago That special welcome has kept us going back time and time again (as well as the wonderful food and drink!). It’s a very friendly and welcoming place and the wines .. well they are superb! I would be really interested to hear how you find the wines if you end up getting a selection! Am sure they’d ship to the UK – most of the wineries down in the Margaret River region do as indeed do wine outlets the world over!! Santé!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. fifi + hop says:

    Love a good winery and good food! Mrs. Cullen sounds like an amazing person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always a winning combination isn’t it – wine and food in a lovely location! That first visit really made an impression on us – Mrs Cullen was such an engaging person but so humble – really I was amazed when I read up about her life and achievements. How she raised 6 kids at the same time is beyond me!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. KerryCan says:

    What a gorgeous spot! I’ve never seen an unattractive vineyard but this one is exceptionally pretty. The meal looks very fine, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vineyards and wineries are such beautiful places aren’t they Kerry – I love the look of vines throughout the seasons (we have some in our courtyard but alas the grapes are not of wine making quality!). Cullen is indeed a gorgeous spot and the meals they produce there, using as much of their own produce as possible, are exceptional 🙂

      Like

  5. Anabel Marsh says:

    What a lovely story! I felt quite emotional reading that. I can understand why you want to keep going back after making such a personal connection (though it looks wonderful anyway). Margaret River is on my to-do list if we ever make it back to Australia. I have happy memories of wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, my only other experience of wineries / vineyards being in France, and they are so different!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anabel – am so glad you loved the story – it was really a very special encounter with a charming person and one that has stayed in our memories 🙂 We have gone back with Mlle as a grown up as well and she loves the place too! Yes you should definitely come to Margaret River if you come back Down Under – the region has resemblances to France in my view with the rolling green pastures and vines but the Jarrah and Karri trees and architecture give it a different appearance (no medieval hilltop towns down here!). Have never been to the Hunter Valley but hear it’s beautiful. We have, however, been to the Barossa Valley near Adelaide and the Yarra Valley in Victoria – both are excellent wine producing regions too!

      Like

      1. Anabel Marsh says:

        Sounds like we would be spoiled for choice! We had a driver who took us out from Sydney, which was great because then we could both sample to our hearts content. He was great and tailored the tour to our particular requirements (one being that I had a leg in plaster – but that’s a tale for another day!)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes you would definitely be spoilt for choice down in the Margaret River area Anabel! Yes a private driver would be great – I was driving on this occasion so of course I couldn’t sample much. There are a quite a few wine tasting tours you can do down in the south west though we haven’t personally done any of them. Gosh that’s no good having a leg in plaster on your hols!!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Mmm I couldn’t think of anything better than having delicious locally produced food and wine… How good was the honeycomb?? How lovely that you have memories of meeting the owner! Hope you have a lovely weekend 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ting and am happy to report the honeycomb was superb – really it was all delicious! Very relaxed vibe here too – would be no problems taking kids at all (not surprising since the Cullens were such a large family themselves!). Special memories indeed of meeting the lovely owner all those years ago and it’s great that the business is still a family one. Just heading off to our little granddaughter’s 3rd birthday party! It is a long weekend here as it is Australia Day on Tuesday. Hope you have a lovely weekend too! 🙂

      Like

  7. RuthsArc says:

    Looks like a delightful place. Nothing better than a visit to a favourite vineyard. Love the astronomy connection too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ruth yes it is a delightful spot! If you come over to WA try to head down Margaret River way – it is well worth it and not too far (3 hours drive south of Perth). The astronomy connection was fascinating – more to follow in Part 2!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Heyjude says:

    I am always happy to visit a winery, this one sounds delightful and the food impressive too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopefully you’ll be able to go there one day Jude! The gardens were delightful too (will write more about them next week) and they had really interesting explanations of the history of all the plants and flowers! The food and wine is outstanding here! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heyjude says:

        On the Perth list 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes you have to go here Jude – you’d love the gardens too 🙂

          Like

          1. Heyjude says:

            I shall have to ask you for a top ten of things to do in and around Perth – or maybe you could write a post? Or have you already done one? Actually this could be several posts, based on how long a person has in Perth. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I think you’ve already found my Western Australia category Jude – there are quite a few posts in there? Thanks for liking my posts! I should just add that the Heritage Rose Garden and Cafe in the Perth Hills has been redesigned and renamed since we last visited in 2014 but I have kept the post to remember it as it used to be! Cullen has been renovated over the years too but always with sympathy to its heritage so the essential character is the same. Our last visit at the end of winter was post renovation so it is right up to date 😀 I think a trip to the Hills, Swan Valley ( you can cruise up there from Perth as an alternative to driving if you like), Kings Park, Perth City itself, the new Elizabeth Quay ( still being built but should be partially opening up in the near future) would all be “must dos”. Always love a trip to Fremantle too – in fact we’re going there to the Fairy Shop this Sunday for our granddaughter’s 3rd birthday party. Happy to provide any more info – just ask if you’ve any questions these are just a few ideas. Also have a few more more Perth photos on my Instagram page as well ( see sidebar). 😀

              Like

            2. Heyjude says:

              Thank you Rosemary, I had fun exploring Western Australia with you, only wish I was there in reality. Hoping that next year I will be! Kids moving from Freo in to a house, but I don’t know where yet, Freo too expensive for a house and the town house they were in was getting difficult with a toddler.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Yes Freo is very expensive Jude! Actually Perth in general is quite pricey to say the least but the mining boom is waning so that should bring prices down a bit. I personally couldn’t cope with the summers if we didn’t live by the coast (we’re 1 suburb inland) as we usually get cooling breezes from around lunchtime, which reduce the temperature by several degrees. It was 29 when we left home the other day to drive to our daughter’s in the south east and by the time we got their place it was 35 (there is a divide about 2 to 3 suburbs inland where the breeze peters out). They do get the breeze out there but not usually until later in the evening. Hope you can make it over here next year! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  9. poshbirdy says:

    Looks and sounds wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always a lovely place in which to wile away some time…very leisurely pace of life down in the south west such a contrast to the city!

      Like

  10. pommepal says:

    I love the Margaret River area, one of my favourite places on our round Aus trip. This was the winery we visited https://pommepal.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/wine-country-in-margaret-river/ I wished we’d had time to explore the area more. Your lunch and winery visit was so special.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sending me the link to your post Pauline – am off to check it out now! Yes it’s a lovely area and there always seems to be a new place opening to try out! Cullen has really stood the test of time well 🙂

      Like

      1. pommepal says:

        Are the fires in that area under control now?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes Pauline believe they are- it is much cooler since that awful few days and there has also been a lot of rain especially heavy in the south west, which helped to put the fires out. It’s also been humid since then (unusually so for Perth this summer) so that helps too. Expecting another cold front this weekend and heavy rain forecast. Really strange weather patterns these days – summer hasn’t been particularly hot ( unlike spring) but far more humid and more rain than we generally get in summer. Last winter was dry and mild during the days but at night it got so cold ( like down to 0 on occasions). Normally we get far more rain in winter when we get howling rain storms blowing in from the south west ocean! However the climate over here is lovely in comparison to many places so we are very fortunate! 😀

          Like

          1. pommepal says:

            I liked the Perth climate when we were there, not as humid as Queensland. Pleased to hear the fires are now under control.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. No it’s definitely nowhere near as humid as Queensland – most of the time it’s a pleasant dry heat in summer just had a few humid days recently 😀

              Liked by 1 person

  11. What a great looking place – and the food looks delicious! No wonder you keep going back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Susan yes definitely one of those places that draws you back! Always head off here when we’re down in the Margaret River area 🙂

      Like

What Do You Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: