Skillogalee is a boutique family-owned and operated winery located in the heart of the picturesque Clare Valley in South Australia, which offers hand-crafted, world-class wines. Let's discover their background and winemaking right now with RADA!
Origins of the Name
In the early 1840's, the pioneer and explorer John Horrocks settled at Penworththam, named after his home town in England. From here, he explored further north in the Flinders ranges, using Afghan camels and looking for land suitable for settlement.
Skillogalee's winery in Clare Valley, South Australia. (Image: Skillogalee)
On one such expedition, Horrocks' party was beset by illness, injuries and bad weather. Having run short of provisions, they survived only by making a "skillogalee" or "skilly" - a sort of thin porridge or gruel, probably from grass seeds and water. The word "skillogalee" comes from Celtic origins and the dish was commonly fed to prisoners in Ireland around this time.
When Horrcocks finally made it back to Penwortham, he gave the creek nearby the name Skillogalee in memory of this event. The vineyard takes its name from the creek which runs through the eastern, lower end.
Skillogalee was established in 1970 with the first wines released in 1976. The 1978 dry riesling won major trophies at the Adelaide Wine Show and the National Wine Show, putting Skillogalee firmly on the Australian winemaking map!
Skillogalee wines nowadays. (Image: Skillogalee)
The wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown on our own vineyards and styles include crisp dry whites (riesling, gewürztraminer and chardonnay), a full flavoured rosé, rich, full-bodied reds (shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and blends) and some luscious fortified wines.
Skillogalee's restaurant in Clare Valley. (Image: Skillogalee)
The vineyards were planted in the early 1970s on what was then, at almost 500 metres above sea level, one of the highest vineyards in South Australia. The rows are planted on the contour in shallow stony soils mainly on steep eastern facing slopes.
The vines are hand-pruned and the fruit is mainly hand-picked. Yields are extremely low but the vineyard produces intense flavours and aromas and deep, richly-coloured reds. Kangaroos are our major pests - significant numbers can be found around vintage time, when the hills are dry and brown, camping in the vineyards and feasting on the ripe fruit!
Wine Styles and Winemaking
Skillogalee has a small modern winery crushing only around 250 tonnes, giving us the opportunity to hand-make individual wines in small batches. Fruit handling and vinification are undertaken using the best of traditional and modern technologies - modern winemaking techniques for whites, to preserve the fruit aromas and flavours, and more traditional techniques for reds - the use of open fermenters and basket pressing to maximise flavour and colour without over-extraction. We focus heavily on gentle fruit handling throughout and our winery hygiene programs are meticulous. In this way, we use the minimum amount of sulphur to keep wines safe from spoilage.
With the same quality issues in mind, we have moved to the use of "stelvin" screw caps on all our table wines to maximise quality and longevity for the consumer.