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Monday 1 June 2020

Coonawarra wine family patriarch dies

He never sought the headlines but Demetrio Zema was the powerhouse behind the Coonawarra family winery that bore his name. 

Demetrio Zema passed away peacefully on Friday, May 29. He was 87. 

A former painter, Zema arrived in Coonawarra in 1959 with his wife Francesca and was the founder and owner of Zema Estate along with their sons Matt (deceased) and Nick.

Demetrio had a passionate dream of creating quality wine that stemmed back to his ancestral home in Calabria in southern Italy. His father and grandfather had vineyards and made wine just for the family.

He established Zema Estate in 1982 and began a multi-generational tradition of family grape-growing and winemaking. 

The Zema family deservedly take great pride in their achievements and have never lost sight of Demetrio’s original philosophy of growing the best possible grapes to – consistently produce exceptional wines, said son Nick Zema.

The eldest of eight children, Demetrio loved returning to Italy and he spoke of his homeland with fondness. 

Demetrio was a real character and loved to greet visitors to the cellar door in Coonawarra. 

In addition to his family and wine interests, he was an avid hunter, loved his dogs and a huge Moto GP fan.

Demetrio was a much loved and respected member of the Coonawarra, Penola and Australian wine communities and he will be deeply missed.

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