Diana Palmer – Skillogalee Wines

Diana Palmer is the co-owner of Skillogalee Wines, making world class hand-crafted wines in the Clare Valley of South Australia.  She and husband Dave bought the property over 25 years ago and have built it into a boutique winery with an award-winning restaurant and 5 star accommodation. Read on for Diana’s fabulous story!

When, why and how did you first enter the wine industry?

We entered the wine industry in 1989 when we bought Skillogalee.  

Where has your career taken you so far?

It has taken me to selling wine all over Australia and in the UK, Canada, Switzerland, Singapore, Denmark and Thailand, and to building a winery restaurant which is known both nationally and internationally.

You are the Owner of Skillogalee. Can you tell us the story of why, when and how this happened?  

With my husband Dave we bought Skillogalee from the George family in 1989. At the time we were living in Canberra where my husband was a management consultant and I had a small restaurant and catering business.  We heard that the winery was to be sold and we took a leap into the unknown and have since built the business to include a restaurant, winery on site and three accommodation premises as well as expanding our vineyard holdings and increasing our wine production.

What is the philosophy behind Skillogalee Wines?

Our philosophy is to grow grapes in a sustainable way at Skillogalee without seeking an organic or biodynamic label.  We do seek to let the fruit speak honestly of the place and soils in which they are grown and to foster a sense of place.  We are looking to make food-friendly, fine wines with great balance.

What grape varieties do you make wine from at Skillogalee Wines? And where are they sourced from?

We grow Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Grenache and Muscat. All this fruit is grown in our 125 acres of vineyard surrounding the winery, cellar door and restaurant.

What are your personal favourites from those you produce, and why?

I love our Riesling for its crispness and dry finish.  I am really proud of our Cabernet/Malbec Rosé.  I call it “Rosé with attitude” and serve it with confit duck.

Within the business – what’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day – what’s that?  I might be in the lab helping to put blends together, setting up the accommodation for guests, doing wine tastings in Adelaide, interstate or overseas, or looking after my lovely grandsons!

What is your absolute favourite wine and food pairing? And what should we keep in mind when matching food and wine?  

My absolute favourite food and wine pairing is Skillogalee Riesling with SA Spencer Gulf King Prawns.  While there are broad guidelines for food and wine matches I think it is most important to drink the wine that you like with the food that you are eating.

As a woman working in the wine industry, have you faced any particular challenges where your gender has ever been an issue?

No, I don’t believe that I have.

In your experience, do women think about or talk about wine differently than blokes do?

In my experience I haven’t really noticed a difference between how women and blokes talk about wine as much as I have noticed that people who love to cook seem to have a greater range of sensory descriptors than those who don’t.

What’s your number one tip for tasting wine?  

Take the time to swirl the wine in your glass and appreciate the aromas before you taste it.

If there was one thing you could tell the sisterhood of wine-lovers out there, what would it be?

Life’s too short to drink bad wine!