'The Winemaker' film trilogy from Margaret River is released »

This film trilogy uncovers three winemakers' stories of perseverance and passion

Contributed articles and stories
Subscribe to VisitVineyards.com
Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix

Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix [©Jenny Lee]

Cullen Wines Margaret River
Jo Perry, Dormilona vineayrd
Jo Perry, Dormilona Wines
Cullen Wines Margaret River entrance


A new trilogy of films entitled 'The Winemaker' uncovers stories of perseverance and passion within the winemaking community of Western Australia’s Margaret River region.

To be released online during September and October 2017 via margaretriver.com/winemaker, the films, created over a period of twelve months from April 2016-17, offer a unique chance to follow the personal and professional journeys of three extraordinary winemakers:

  • Vanya Cullen (Chief Winemaker/Owner/Managing Director, Cullen Wines)
  • Virginia Willcock (Chief Winemaker, Vasse Felix) and
  • Josephine Perry (Winemaker/Owner, Dormilona).

While locals of this famed surfing region are known for their easy-going nature, a series of candid interviews reveals the unrelenting quest for excellence of the region’s winemakers, embodied by intense attention to detail and the nerves felt around vintage time.

"Over harvest it's a lot of juggling; watching weather patterns, waking up early and dragging the kids out of bed to get to the vineyard at first light... it's a very emotional time because you're tired and you're excited and there's energy in the air, especially in Margaret River, the whole region's buzzing"  says Perry, winner of the Riedel 'Young Gun of Wine' award in 2016.

The trilogy explores this tireless ‘pursuit of beauty’ alongside the characteristics of the region’s terroir to leave viewers with an impression of how Margaret River wines have become some of the most renowned and highly awarded in Australia.

“You've got very ancient landscapes, so you have that feeling of stillness from the land, and that stillness that comes from the land is contrasted by the energy of the ocean. That sense of the sea is in everything” observes Cullen, who grew up in the region and has been working at Cullen Wines for 34 years.

The region is surrounded on three sides by immense stretches of pristine coastline and home to ancient forests, limestone cliffs and soils dating back 500 million years.

It is this spectacular natural environment which prompted Dr. John Gladstones – an agronomist with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture – to identify the Margaret River region’s potential as a premium wine region in the 1960s. Gladstones' two papers on the subject and subsequent community engagement led to the establishment of the vineyards and wineries on which the Margaret River wine industry was founded, including Vasse Felix in 1967 and Cullen Wines in 1971.

The series takes the opportunity to look back to the early days of the commercial wine region, when excitement around its potential started to build as the first wine was sold.

“Every bottle sold was a huge win... someone rang up from Melbourne and ordered five dozen and we couldn't believe it” says Cullen.

Willcock, who estimates that she has undergone twenty six of her total thirty two vintages in the Margaret River region, discusses her formative years in the region, saying: “All I wanted to do was make wines, and at the weekends we’d got to the beach, we’d play volleyball… so it was just party time, make the best wine you could, and learn as much as you could.”

Today, the compact region, measuring just 110 km from end to end, is a hive of 217 vineyards and 187 wineries. And while the region's 50th anniversary is celebrated throughout 2017, in winemaking terms, it’s just the start.

“The world still doesn’t know who we are, we’re still tiny” says Willcock.

With winemakers such as Willcock, Perry and Cullen at the helm, the only thing more certain than the continued rise of this premium wine region is the fact that in true ‘Margies’ style, the community will remain characteristically humble in its pursuit of perfection.

"Every year is a real blessing to have another chance to make a better quality wine." - Cullen

“I don’t need my name up in lights or anything, I just want to know that what I left behind in the world is better for me being there.” - Willcock

“I don’t want to get bigger, I don’t want to take over the world, I just want to make my wines better.” - Perry


Release dates:

The release dates for the series are as follows; visit margaretriver.com/winemaker to view the films as soon as they are live:

  • 11 September 2017: Virginia Willcock, Chief Wine Maker, Vasse Felix

     About Virginia Willcock: As a teenager, Virginia saw the happiness and joy wine brought to her parents and their friends after a hard day’s work in their small vineyard. It was here she decided winemaking was going to be her career. More than two decades on, Virginia is the Chief Winemaker behind some of Australia’s most critically acclaimed wines, at Margaret River’s founding wine estate, Vasse Felix. She joined as Chief Winemaker in October, 2006.


  • 2 October 2017: Josephine Perry

    About Josephine Perry: One of the region’s most celebrated up and coming winemakers, from her first vintages in 2012 Ms. Perry’s Dormilona label has won praise and plaudits, picking up the influential Riedel Young Gun of Wine award in 2016.  Ms. Perry is essentially a one-woman operation, juggling family, work and often grueling vintage months.


  • 23 October 2017: Vanya Cullen, Chief Winemaker and Managing Director, Cullen Wines

    About Vanya Cullen: Vanya Cullen has been winemaking at her family’s Wilyabrup estate since 1983. She was appointed to Chief Winemaker in 1989 and Managing Director in 1999. During that time she has been rigorously experimenting in the vineyard and in the winery all the while looking to give her wines greater complexity. Her palate has been honed by judging throughout Australia and overseas, and by her continuous pursuit of a thorough knowledge of the wines of the world.



  • Margaret River (WA)

Our Recommendations

To see our recommendations, ratings and reviews you must be a logged-in subscriber.

To subscribe please enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now - it's Free" box on the right and click the "Join" button, or fill in this form >

October 08th, 2017
Subscribe today - it's free
Subscribe Button

Subscribe now - for news and reviews, our newsletter (optional), to join our forums, and more.

Enter your email address and click the Subscribe button. We respect your privacy.

Log in

Enter your username...

Enter your password...

Log In Button

Forgotten your password?


Kerry's corner - your free benefits