Sign Cullen's petition today!

4 May 2010 by Jancis Robinson
Please sign a petition on behalf of the excellent Cullen Wines of Margaret River, Western Australia, whose heartfelt motto is 'quality, integrity and sustainability'. Tomorrow is the day that mediation between the two concerned parties is to be undertaken, so do consider adding your name to this petition now, or sign up on line.

A new brewery has been proposed on the property immediately north of Cullen Wines, run with great aplomb by Vanya Cullen, daughter of the founder and a pioneer of environmental awareness and biodynamic viticulture in Australia. Vanya is very concerned that yeast cells from the brewery will escape and contaminate the wild yeasts in their vineyard that are so vital to the character and quality of Cullen wines. The potential risks have apparently been confirmed by a report from the highly regarded Australian Wine Research Institute.

This not been an issue in the past because most wine producers have used selected, cultured yeasts but Vanya's point is that now that Australian wineries are being encouraged to strive for quality and individuality, more and more producers are likely to be turning to the ambient yeasts present in the atmosphere to maximise the influence of local conditions, so that this particular battle needs to be fought and won on behalf of the very future of Australian wine. She is calling on government and the planning authorities to act on this to protect and support the Australian wine industry.

Please consider supporting this issue by adding your name to this petition now, or sign up on line.


There seem to be a number of issues here. Are not Australian beers brewers just as entitled to have a brewery as Austrailian wine makers may have their site which seems to be a haven for natural yeasts? I am sure there are relevant rules and regulations on the issue of planning etc in Australia that will ensure fairness to both sides in the outcome of what appears to be an unusual dispute. The mediation process which is now used so frequently in the UK as a means of solving disputes has a very high success rate.  We don't know what position the parties took in the mediation as it is a confidential process. All we know is that it failed. There is no reason why the parties cannot try again it just depends how far apart they were. On the other hand it may be that as this appears to be an issue of such importance a mediation (where a good deal of compromise is needed on both sides to reach a mutually satisfactory result) may not have been an appropriate forum.  Petitions are all very well, but if the matter does go to court I wonder what weight the judge wil give to such a petition as opposed to expert evidence. It really is impossible to have an informed view on the merits without hearing what the brewery have to say. For example, they may have already invested a large sum already in the proposed site which they may not be able to recoup if they have to brew elsewhere.  On the other hand they may be at an early stage in planning and could use another site some distance away without any financial loss. There may be distribution reasons why they need the site at the proposed spot near the winery. I simply don't know. It seems to me that whilst I have some sympathy for Cullen's predicament ultimately  if the parties cannot resolve the differences themselves then the Australian courts will have to decide.   

12 May 2010 14:07 by Andrew Matthews

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