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About Us

Margaret River's Founding Wine Estate

Established in 1967 by regional pioneer Dr Tom Cullity, Vasse Felix is Margaret River's founding wine estate.

One of the great wine regions of the world, Margaret River enjoys a truly unique environment and climate which makes it a paradise for winemakers and wine lovers alike. From the first plantings, right up to the modern day, we have always strived to explore and express the very best of the Margaret River region at Vasse Felix.  

Our wines reflect the strengths of Margaret River, with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon blends. They are grown in our four Margaret River vineyards then vinified and bottled within our modern winery, situated at our Home Vineyard overlooking the Wilyabrup Brook. 

There are many things that make Vasse Felix the special place it is: the incredible environment and climate of Margaret River, our family ownership, our treasured heritage, and our priceless vineyards. But above all, it's the dedication of our entire team to continue Dr Cullity's original aim for Vasse Felix: "to make the best possible wine".

 

The Founder, Dr. Thomas Brendan Cullity

Dr. Tom Cullity was a highly intelligent and slightly eccentric, though respected Cardiologist from Western Australia, who, on his travels in Britain working at the National Heart Hospital in the 1950s, discovered the great table wines of Europe. Upon returning home, Tom set himself a mission to make fine wines in Western Australia.

Tom searched obsessively for the perfect plot of land, taking guidance from the research of Professor Harold Olmo (1955) and Dr. John Gladstones (1965), looking for “red gravel in redgum country, with clay about 18 inches below the surface.” He eventually settled on a small piece of land (now the Vasse Felix Home Vineyard) by the Wilyabrup Brook, planting 8 hectares of vines, including what we now refer to as Houghton clone Cabernet Sauvignon, the core of Margaret River’s finest Cabernets.

In addition to catering to a demanding career and large family, Tom spent most of his spare time navigating the arduous drive from Perth to Margaret River on gravel roads to nurture his young vine plantings. It was at this site, a mere 4km from the Ocean, that Tom established rudimentary winemaking facilities from recycled medical contraptions in a small shed which also served as his sleeping quarters. Despite many doubting the success of his pursuit and colourful locals calling him crazy, Tom persevered, relying on his intellectual and unconventional approach, including a brief foray into falconry, to meet the many challenges that arose.

Tom’s tenacious and enduring persistence led to the successful creation of Margaret River’s first commercial wines. He is remembered for his pioneering role in establishing the Margaret River Wine Region. 

VIEW HISTORICAL TIMELINE

 

Margaret River, Wine Paradise

Margaret River's pristine isolation, ancient lands and maritime influence create the ideal environment to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and Shiraz and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend wines.

The region contributes just 3% to Australia's total wine production, however commands over 20% of the premium market with wines that arguably lead the way as international benchmarks.

More About Wine Paradise

Margaret River, Wine Paradise

Margaret River's pristine isolation, ancient lands and maritime influence create the ideal environment to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and Shiraz and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend wines.

The region contributes just 3% to Australia's total wine production, however commands over 20% of the premium market with wines that arguably lead the way as international benchmarks.

More About Wine Paradise

Four Distinct Sites

Vasse Felix has four distinct and exceptional sites around the Margaret River region.

Each vineyard is matched to the best possible varieties and clones, and farmed sustainably using traditional and organic practices.

This builds upon the Estate’s reputation for minimal intervention and ‘small batch’ winemaking, as an intuitive progression to achieve Dr Tom Cullity’s original aim, ‘to make the best possible wine’. 

Explore The Vineyards

Four Distinct Sites

Vasse Felix has four distinct and exceptional sites around the Margaret River region.

Each vineyard is matched to the best possible varieties and clones, and farmed sustainably using traditional and organic practices.

This builds upon the Estate’s reputation for minimal intervention and ‘small batch’ winemaking, as an intuitive progression to achieve Dr Tom Cullity’s original aim, ‘to make the best possible wine’. 

Explore The Vineyards

The Story of the Name

Vasse
‘Naturaliste’ and ‘Geographe’ were the maiden ships in the Baudin Expedition, undertaken by the French to map the coast of Australia (New Holland) from 1800-1803. The expedition was the first to discover the south-west coast of Australia, arriving from Mauritius in the peak of winter to storms and 8 foot swells.

Disaster struck on 8 June 1801 when the Naturaliste’s Assistant Helmsman was swept up by the waves and thrown into the vast and treacherous ocean. This was the disappearance of Thomas Timothèe Vasse. While originally thought to have drowned, rumours of Vasse’s circumstances emerged in the following years. His became one of the most curious nautical stories in French and Australian history.

Was he lost to the wild ocean, or did he wash ashore and live with the local indigenous community? Did he grow old in Australia or was he picked up by an American crew, taken to England and imprisoned? It became a highly publicised story in the French Journals. The public was divided. What happened to the unlucky and unfortunate Vasse?

Felix
An avid historian, and hopeful that his vineyard would enjoy a happier fate, Dr Tom Cullity named it Vasse Felix, meaning ‘lucky/happy’ Vasse.

The Story of the Name

Vasse
‘Naturaliste’ and ‘Geographe’ were the maiden ships in the Baudin Expedition, undertaken by the French to map the coast of Australia (New Holland) from 1800-1803. The expedition was the first to discover the south-west coast of Australia, arriving from Mauritius in the peak of winter to storms and 8 foot swells.

Disaster struck on 8 June 1801 when the Naturaliste’s Assistant Helmsman was swept up by the waves and thrown into the vast and treacherous ocean. This was the disappearance of Thomas Timothèe Vasse. While originally thought to have drowned, rumours of Vasse’s circumstances emerged in the following years. His became one of the most curious nautical stories in French and Australian history.

Was he lost to the wild ocean, or did he wash ashore and live with the local indigenous community? Did he grow old in Australia or was he picked up by an American crew, taken to England and imprisoned? It became a highly publicised story in the French Journals. The public was divided. What happened to the unlucky and unfortunate Vasse?

Felix
An avid historian, and hopeful that his vineyard would enjoy a happier fate, Dr Tom Cullity named it Vasse Felix, meaning ‘lucky/happy’ Vasse.

The Peregrine Falcon Story

The bird on the Vasse Felix label is a Peregrine Falcon. It has been on the Vasse Felix label since the first vintage and draws from an early story in the vineyards.

The first Vasse Felix vintage in 1971 from four year old vines was disheartening, with most of the fruit either destroyed by rot or eaten by native birds. To protect the grapes from bird damage during harvest, falconry was attempted.

The exercise, however, proved unsuccessful, as the first time the falcon was released to circle the vineyard it flew straight into the surrounding forest, never to return.

The Peregrine Falcon Story

The bird on the Vasse Felix label is a Peregrine Falcon. It has been on the Vasse Felix label since the first vintage and draws from an early story in the vineyards.

The first Vasse Felix vintage in 1971 from four year old vines was disheartening, with most of the fruit either destroyed by rot or eaten by native birds. To protect the grapes from bird damage during harvest, falconry was attempted.

The exercise, however, proved unsuccessful, as the first time the falcon was released to circle the vineyard it flew straight into the surrounding forest, never to return.

 

Our People

Chief Executive Officer & Owner
Chief Viticulturist
Chief Winemaker
Lloyd Constantine
Head of Sales & Marketing
Head Chef