Demetrio Zema

Fruit of the Vine Leads Law Graduate to Rome and the Canonisation

No sooner had 22 year old Demetrio Zema finished his final law exam at La Trobe University last Tuesday, than the grandson of Coonawarra’s famous winegrowing family was heading for Rome where he will spend the next four weeks helping Australia’s Ambassador to the Vatican, Tim Fischer with celebrations for the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop.

In early January this year, the young man who was an active participant at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008, represented his family and grandparents, Demetrio Zema and Francesca Zema and flew to Rome with Zema wines which had been requested by Tim Fischer and were used in the celebrations he hosted following the announcement of Australia’s first Saint.

“Demetrio Zema went across to Rome with our wines and from what I understand, got on well with the Ambassador and was offered an internship to come back and help out in the lead up to the canonisation as well as the celebrations surrounding the event,” Demetrio Zema’s uncle, Nick Zema said, describing his nephew as “absolutely over the moon and full of excitement.”

Viticulturist for Zema Estate which produces award winning Cabernet Savignon, Cluny, Shiraz and Savignon Blanc, Nick is also co-proprietor of the Coonawarra vineyards with his brother Matt Zema, Demetrio’s father, and for the Canonisation has joined other vineyards around Penola in donating wine for use at the Australian Embassy in Rome during the Canonisation.

“Coonawarra is five minutes from Penola and whether people here are Catholic or non Catholic they are very excited and have grown up inspired by Mary MacKillop and the story of her life,” says Lisa Gulyas, Events Officer for the Coonawarra Vignerons Association.

Penola in South Australia is where Mary MacKillop founded her first school and began the Order of the Sisters of St Joseph.

“The story of Mary MacKillop is beautifully told and interpreted at the Mary MacKillop Centre in Penola and when we were asked about a month ago if our wine growers would like to contribute wine to the celebrations taking place in Rome, the response from the 30 vineyards across the Coonawarra was fantastic.”

Within four weeks, more than 1,200 bottles from estates across the region from such well known names as Yalumba Coonawarra, Wynns Coonawarra, Petaluma, Lindemans, Bowen and of course Zema were donated.

While Zema Estate concentrated on donating its award winning Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, other vineyards have contributed a wide variety of wines including Pinot Gris, Reisling as well as the famous Coonawarra reds for which the area is famous.

“I understand there will be many functions at the Embassy in Rome during the Canonisation and it is very special that the wines being served are not only Australian wines but come from Penola with its close association with Mary MacKillop and where her first school, which she converted from a stable, can still be seen,” says Lisa.

According to Nick Zema, his parents Francesca and Demetrio Zema are both keen to join their grandson in Rome for this very important event and Joy, Doug and Emma Bowen, members of another Coonawarra well known wine-growing family – Bowen Estate – have also booked their trip and intend to be in St Peter’s Square for the canonisation of Australia’s first ever saint. And like the Zema and Bowen families many Australians travelling to Rome will also like to celebrate with some home-grown wine.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
2 Jul 2010 (adopted from:

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