Demetrio Zema, the patriarch of the Zema family in Coonawarra, passed away peacefully on Friday aged 87 years.
Arriving in Coonawarra in 1959, Demetrio was the founder and owner of Zema Estate in Coonawarra, along with his wife, Francesca, and their sons, Matt (deceased) and Nick.
“Demetrio had a passionate dream and a love of wine – stemming all the way from the ancestral home, Calabria in southern Italy,” Nick says.
“He established Zema Estate in 1982 and to continue a multi-generational tradition of grape-growing and winemaking in Coonawarra.
Demetrio and the Zema family worked very closely together in developing one of Australia’s much-loved small family wineries.
“The Zema family take great pride in our achievements and have never lost sight of Demetrio’s original philosophy of growing the best possible grapes to consistently produce exceptional wines,” Nick says.
The eldest of eight children, Demetrio loved returning to Italy and he spoke of his homeland with fondness, as he left behind his family to start a new life and marry the love of his life, Francesca, and together they built a strong legacy for future generations.
“Demetrio was quite a character and loved to greet visitors to the cellar door in Coonawarra, with many fond memories of Demetrio pouring Zema Estate’s finest wine and sharing stories,” Nick says.
“In addition to his family and wine interests, Demetrio was an avid hunter, loved his dogs and was a huge motor GP fan.
“The Zema family would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this sad time.”
Demetrio Zema with Francesca, Nick and Demetrio Junior.