Dec 10, 2012

WineWalkabout checks in at Skillogalee, Clare Valley

A visit to the Clare Valley in South Australia would not be complete without a visit to Skillogalee. The location is a little off the beaten track and that is part of the magic. As you drive down the narrow winding road through the bush the vineyards appear, then the B&B, and then you see the Cellar Door and restaurant.

The history of how this place was named is quite interesting; “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 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.”
The winery of Skillogalee was established in 1970 with the first wines released in 1976. In 1978 their dry Riesling won major trophies at the Adelaide Wine Show and the National Wine Show, putting Skillogalee firmly on the Australian winemaking map! The wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown on their own vineyards and their styles include crisp dry whites (Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay), a full flavored rosé, rich, medium to full-bodied reds (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and blends) and some luscious fortified wines.

 Aside from some great wine there is a very nice restaurant and if you believe the people that eat there the food is great. One can only assume that if they keep coming back. Unfortunately Koala did not have time to dine but the smells from the kitchen were amazing (next time Nicola).

Skillogalee also has accommodations for those who wish ranging from the very upscale homestead style Skillogalee House, to the almost as cool, Owl and Wren Cottages.  The two cottages are set up on the hill overlooking Skillogalee where the wildlife are your neighbors. While not staying there this trip Koala did take a long look at each place and has them on the list for places to stay next time (yes they look that good). Maybe a wine dinner event for some employee’s of the month from the area at Skillogalee House. Just a thought.

While the tasting area at Skillogalee is small it is very comfortable and makes for a very intimate tasting. For larger groups arrangements can be made. Nicola came out of the kitchen to welcome Koala and his brother and to put us in the good hands of the cellar door attendant. Koala’s tasting was taken care of by this lovely lady (embarrassed about forgetting name) who was charming and well versed in the great wines being poured. Koala had a very nice tasting of some very good wines all at very reasonable prices and one not to miss. The best way to appreciate Skillogalee would be to book a lunch for a couple or two, go an hour early and taste the wines, select a couple bottles for lunch (get a couple bottles to take as well) and enjoy this beautiful place in this beautiful location.

Koala gives it a ‘recommend for your wine, and should you have the need, to stay and eat in the wonderful Claire Valley. 

Happy tasting, relaxing stays and Bon Appétit!

Kiwi & Koala

Road to Skillogalee.

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