COOL CLIMATE, COOL WINES
The Cullarin Vineyard was established in 1971 by the father of the Canberra wine industry Dr Edgar Riek. Edgar had been searching for the ideal cool climate vineyard site for a decade when he finally decided on Cullarin.
Staying on site in a 19th century drovers hut, between 1971 and 1975 Edgar planted 8 acres of Chardonnay from cuttings he procured from a Grand Cru vineyard in Burgundy and Pinot Noir from a prior vineyard he had planted nearby in Sutton. He also planted Semillon, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Beginning in 1996 these were grafted to Shiraz.
Initially Edgar produced wines under the "Cullarin Cellar'' brand, changing it later to "Lake George Wines". Since he sold the vineyard in 1998 the fruit has been used to make wines at Canberra's top wineries including Collector Wines, Lerida Estate and Maipenrai.
Edgar continued to visit the vineyard until his death in 2016 aged 95, providing invaluable insights into Cullarin. His ashes are buried at the vineyard.
Now as it nears its 50th anniversary the fruit from the Cullarin block planted in 1971 has returned home to produce their own unique wines.
“DRIVING PAST LAKE GEORGE, I NOTICED ONE SPOT ON THE ESCARPMENT THAT WAS ALWAYS GREEN, IT HAD ITS OWN SPRING AND WAS WARMER IN WINTER THAN ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE REGION. I THOUGHT IT WAS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR MY VINEYARD.”
DR EDGAR RIEK
The Vineyard comprises two blocks, "old" and "new". Both are located at between 710 and 740m above sea level on the Cullerin Ranges which rise from the west edge of Lake George, north east of Canberra.
The original 1971 "old" block of 8 acres, comprising 5 acres Syrah (Best's, Penfolds and PT23 clones), 1.5 acres Pinot Noir (MV6 and 777 clones), 1.5 acres Chardonnay (clones unknown) and a tiny amount of Viognier which we co-ferment with the Syrah and Pinot Meunier which we co-ferment with the Pinot Noir.
The "new" block is 3.5 acres and was planted in 1998 and is almost exclusively Syrah with a few rows of Malbec. These vines, while producing outstanding fruit, are still too young for our Block 71 wines, one day they will qualify for our estate wines.