When we arrived at the Demetria Estate Winery, I was convinced we were no longer in California. This gorgeous winery transported me to a villa in Tuscany with sweeping views of the vine-covered hills and an outdoor tasting area where visitors are encouraged to linger, sip wine, and soak up the beautiful scenery.
Demetria Estate Winery is a hidden gem tucked off the beaten path above Foxen Canyon. A visit to the tasting room requires a reservation, 2 gate codes, and a 2 mile or so drive down a narrow, winding road with vineyards on both sides. While some people may not want to go through the trouble, it is well worth a visit and reservations are fairly easy to come by unless the winery is extremely crowded (which hasn’t been an issue after 3 different visits).
When we finally reached the tasting room, I was amazed by the unsurpassed beauty of the place. The building itself looks like it belongs in Italy or Greece with its terra cota finish, huge weathered wooden doors, a fountain in front, and lush trees, shrubs and flowers everywhere you look.
When we arrived at the tasting room, we were warmly welcomed by the owner John Zahoudanis, his brother who was visiting from the bay area and the owner’s son who manages the tasting room. While it was gorgeous outside, we decided to enjoy our current company and do a tasting indoors.
The one thing I noticed right away was the great family vibe. John the owner was preoccupied because a big party had arrived in a tour bus who had not only failed to make reservations, but were also rearranging the perfectly set up outdoor area by moving tables around and generally making a mess of the place.
His brother kept us entertained by pouring wine and telling us about his job of developing smart energy grids in northern California which sounded like the environmental wave of the future. John’s son did a great job of keeping the flow of the place going – selling wine, helping with tastings, and generally making sure everyone was happy and comfortable. It was wonderful. I felt like we were thrown into a big family gathering on a beautiful summer day.
Established in 2005, Demetria Estate is a family owned winery. Their wines are artfully crafted to showcase the unique growing conditions of both the Santa Ynez Valley and the Santa Rita Hills. Demetria Estate is focused on low yields, sustainable and biodynamic farming practices, and gentle winemaking which enables them to produce wines of exceptional quality.
Demetria Estate grew out of the desire of owners John and Sandra Zahoudanis to continue a family legacy connecting his Greek heritage with their family’s future. John grew up on a modest family farm at the base of Mount Olympus in Greece. Sadly, his family was uprooted following the devastation of both World War II and the Greek Civil war.
The unparalleled beauty and Mediterranean feel of the Demetria Estate reminded John of his homeland and became the perfect location to carry on the family tradition of farming and careful stewardship of the land. Demetria is named after John and Sandra’s daughter, Demetria. The name is fitting as it means “goddess of harvest” in the ancient Greek language.
Demetria Estate produces two distinct portfolios of wines based upon two exceptional vineyard properties ideally situated in the finest growing regions of the Central Coast: pinot noir and chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills, and biodynamically grown Rhone-style wines from the Demetria Estate in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Winemaking at Demetria is lead by Michael Roth who brings over a decade of experience in Napa and Sonoma to the emerging region. The process of biodynamic farming is guided by Philippe Armenier, formerly of Domaine Marcoux in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
I was truly impressed by all the wines we tried at Demetria Estate. One stand out was the 2007 Cuvée Papou – a biodynamic white Rhone blend with wild floral notes on the nose and a rich crispness of apple, orange blossom, passion fruit and subtle apricot flavors on the palate. I walked away with 2 bottles.
I also loved the beautifully balanced 2008 Chardonnay with hints of citrus complemented by nuances of vanilla and lemon curd, and the wonderful 2007 Pinot Noir – Santa Rita Hills which was brimming with strawberries, cherries and blackberries married with just the right amount of spice and cedar. The Pinot Noir is not to be missed.
Demetria Estate Winery is now a regular stop on our trips to the Santa Ynez Valley and is guaranteed to become a favorite for anyone who visits.
DEMETRIA ESTATE WINERY
6701 Foxen Canyon Road
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 686-2345
Fax: (805) 686-2522
Tasting room hours: Open daily by appointment only