Zema Estate Pty Ltd:
Grape growing and winemaking has been a large part of our family’s history since the early 1800’s when Demetrio Zema’s great grandfather Matteo opened the first wine bar/tavern in Armo, Reggio Calabria in 1835 much to the angst of the local authorities. Although the tavern no longer exists the vineyard remains and it is this legacy accompanied by a passion for wine that has been passed down fro... Read more
Grape growing and winemaking has been a large part of our family’s history since the early 1800’s when Demetrio Zema’s great grandfather Matteo opened the first wine bar/tavern in Armo, Reggio Calabria in 1835 much to the angst of the local authorities. Although the tavern no longer exists the vineyard remains and it is this legacy accompanied by a passion for wine that has been passed down from generation to generation. It was in the early 1950’s in the village of Armo, Italy when Demetrio and Francesca began a love affair that would last not only more than fifty years, but also cross two continents. Soon after becoming engaged, the young couple was separated as Francesca and her family, left Italy to escape the aftermath of war and to seize the opportunities that a strange and peaceful new country ‘Australia’ offered. At the time of Francesca’s departure the couple had an understanding that she would return to Italy to marry Demetrio. Upon arriving in Coonawarra Australia, Francesca’s family went about establishing a home, securing work and adapting to a new language and culture. In 1953 Nicola Zema (Francesca’s father) starting working for Wynns in the vineyard and in the cellar, this was a job that continued through until his retirement in 1975. Back in Italy, Demetrio who was impatiently awaiting his fiancée’s return, decided to travel to Australia to marry Francesca and bring her home. After more than twelve months apart the couple were re-united in May 1959 and married in Penola in June that year. Francesca was reluctant to leave her family and convinced Demetrio to stay, at least in the short term, so the couple settled in Penola. Demetrio soon found work helping a local painter and after a short period established his own painting business. In March 1960 Demetrio and Francesca’s first son Matteo (Matt) was born and in 1966 Nicola (Nick) arrived. Demetrio worked hard, painting houses and buildings throughout the south east, with Francesca and later Matt and Nick often helping late at night, weekends and wherever possible. Demetrio gained a reputation as a meticulous painter and a very engaging one, as there was always a good story to be told and one of his home-made wines to be shared. Whilst painting was our family’s livelihood, the passion for wine never diminished and our dream was to one day own a piece of Coonawarra’s famed terra rossa soil and create our own world class wines. In 1982 the dream became a reality when our family was able to purchase a small block of mature vines in the very heart of Coonawarra. The first vintage of Zema Estate wines was made with very little equipment, a tin shed and an old milk tanker under the generous guidance of veteran Coonawarra Winemaker Mr. Ken Ward. Matt moved away to undertake studies in Electrical and Computer systems Engineering whilst returning to Coonawarra on weekends to work in the vineyards and in the winery. Nick was in high school at the time of the vineyard purchase and found that his education was instantly transferred from the classroom to the family business. The family moved in to the small home on site and went about establishing our new venture with assistance from our extended group of family and friends who rallied, helping to plant new vines, hand prune and pick. Additional buildings were added over time, from the initial winery and Cellar Door sales constructed in time for the 1983 vintage through to the recently added new Cellar Door, office complex and warehouse which was opened on April 19, 2006. 2006 was also the year that Winemaker Greg Clayfield joined Zema Estate bringing with him an impressive 29 year track record in Winemaking and Winery Management including appointments with Rouge Homme (1978-1991), Wynns Coonawarra Estate (1991-2005), numerous wine show accolades and winner of the 1988 International Winemaker of the Year. Greg is Coonawarra born and bred and was first drawn to the world of winemaking after many years riding the school bus up and down the terra rossa strip and observing the activity and growth of the local wine industry. Greg’s enthusiasm and interest in wine saw him helping out at local wineries during vintage before going on to complete a Diploma in Oenology at Roseworthy College, South Australia in 1977. Greg has known the Zema family since the early 1960’s and observed them establish one of Coonawarra’s most respected wineries. The Zema family are thrilled with Greg’s appointment and feels very fortunate in securing the services of someone with his passion, skills and experience. Zema Estate now has 150 hectares of vines in three prime Coonawarra locations and although our family takes great pride in our achievements, we have not lost sight of our original philosophies – Estate grown, hand pruned, minimally irrigated, hand crafted, estate bottled, consistently exceptional wines. THE ZEMA TOUCH The Zema practice of attention to detail starts in the vineyard. Each vineyard site has been carefully selected for its soil and climate and combined with the traditional vineyard practices of hand pruning and minimal irrigation to produce rich intense fruit of unparalleled quality. Zema Estate vineyards are planted on terra rossa over limestone at 55-60 metres above sea level. All Zema Estate vines are hand pruned, with pruning starting in June and continuing through until August each year. Bud burst occurs in late September, flowering in late November, fruit set mid December and veraison mid February. Zema Estate wines are managed by a hands-on approach which uses estate grown fruit and allows the family to manage all aspects of wine quality from the vine through to consumption. We commence intense weekly monitoring of the vineyard in January to assess the fruit as it ripens allowing the grapes to be harvested at their optimum fruit ripeness and intensity. Vintage commences in late March early April with great care taken to preserve the intense flavours throughout the winemaking process. A combination of both static and rotary fermenters are used. Oak maturation adds richness and complexity producing wines of deep colour and fruit concentration Bottling of all Zema Estate wines is done at the winery. Our family has for many years operated its own bottling line, however due to increasing demand this has recently changed to using a larger state of the art mobile bottling facility which sets up on-site, on demand. Bottling times are determined by the maturation and development of the wines, with all aspects overseen by Winemaker Greg Clayfield and our family. The new warehouse provides ideal storage conditions. Read less
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