The History of Skillogalee
Established in 1970, and with over 50-years of family-owned wine making history, Skillogalee is now recognised as one of Australia’s top riesling producers.
Winner of numerous wine awards starting with the 1978 Skillogalee Riesling, only the third vintage under the Skillogalee label, which won the Adelaide Wine Show trophy for best Riesling and then went on to win the trophy for best 1978 Riesling at the National Wine show.
Where It Began
Skillogalee operates a wine tasting and sales area and a restaurant from an old stone cottage built in 1851 by a Cornish miner, John Trestrail, who settled here and operated the property, then called Trevarrick Farm, as a mixed home farm. He and his wife had 17 children of whom 13 survived – he was a religious man who, it is said, did not approve of drinking!
The property remained in the Trestrail family until the early 1900’s. It was then planted to stone fruit and vines for dried fruit, currants and sultanas. In the 1950’s and 60’s it became a grazing property until it was bought by Spencer and Margaret George in 1969. It was planted to wine grapes over the next 2 or 3 years – early varieties were Riesling, Shiraz, Grenache and Crouchen (formerly know as Clare Riesling). In the early 1980’s, most of the Grenache and all the Crouchen were grafted to Traminer and Cabernet Sauvignon and additional small areas were planted with new Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
Origin 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.
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 Horrocks finally made it back to Penwortham, he gave the creek nearby the name Skillogalee in memory of this event. The winery and vineyard take its name from this creek which runs through the lower, eastern end, of the property.
Over 50 Years of Winemaking
Spencer and Margaret George purchased the existing grazing property and planted grapes over the next 2 or 3 years – early varieties planted were Riesling, Shiraz, Grenache and Crouchen (formerly know as Clare Riesling).
First Wines Released
The vineyard produces the first vintage. 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.
New Varieties in the Vineyard
Changing tastes saw most of the Grenache and all the Crouchen grafted to Gewürztraminer and Cabernet Sauvignon. At the same time additional small areas were planted with new Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
Dave and Diana Palmer bought the vineyard in 1989, and developed it into a world-class tourism and food and wine experience. Opening a cellar door and restaurant, and building an extensive portfolio of award-winning wines.
New winery established
Building begins on the small modern winery crushing up to around 500 tonnes of grapes, giving Skillogalee the ability to hand-make individual wines in small batches.
1989 - 2021
Over 30 years of excellence
For more than 30 years Diana and Dave Palmer have been operating the Skillogalee winery, cellar door and restaurant. Delighting thousands of wine lovers and guests from around Australia, and around the world.
With retirement plans beckoning the Palmers pass the ownership of Skillogalee to new custodians, with the Clausen family acquiring the business and property in July 2021. With a desire to respect the past but continue the evolution, the new owners plan to enhance the much loved Skillogalee for generations to come.
The family owners continue developing Skillogalee to produce award-winning wines to maintain the reputation of being recognised as one of the top boutique wine producers and food & tourism destinations in Australia.