In the autumn of 1982, Demetrio and Francesca Zema with sons Matt and Nick, made their first Coonawarra Shiraz in a tin shed, using a second-hand milk tanker as a fermenter.
Humble and modest, this migrant family had a passionate dream - stemming all the way from their ancestral home, Calabria in southern Italy- to continue a multi-generational tradition of grape-growing and winemaking in Australia.
As luck had it, 1982 was an outstanding vintage and two years later the inaugural Zema Shiraz was a highlight of internationally acclaimed Expovin'84.
It was the first of many defining moments that moulded and shaped Zema - from the satisfaction of seeing a group of happy diners enjoying a bottle of Zema Shiraz at a Sydney restaurant, to the honour of being the winner of a European Slow Food Movement contest in the 1990's.
Despite these accolades and encouragements, Zema has continued to remain grounded to its foundations and unerringly true to its origins.
The strong Zema values that launched the winery have not changed - hand-pruning to nurture and foster each individual vine, careful fruit selection to ensure fruit quality, enriching the fruit flavours through selected winemaking techniques, utilizing the best oak barrels available and diligent bottle ageing.
This persistent, unshakeable continuity explains why Zema achieves such consistently high-quality wine, regardless of seasonal fluctuations and vintage highs and lows.
Zema also continues to specialise in just two varieties - classic Coonawarra Cabernet and Shiraz - resisting the Australian fascination with new and trending varietals.
This is not just a sign of respect for the pioneers who came before them, those who learnt by trial and error - John Riddoch, the Redmans, Samuel Wynn - but an acknowledgement that place and provenance are everything in fine wine.
That's not to say the Zema family doesn't derive its meaning and inspiration from its Italian birth right - its love of Mediterranean food, the sense of trust, security and dependability that comes from family, the feeling that everything it does has been influenced by generations of stories and culture.
Now in its fourth decade Zema knows who it is - a true and trusted Coonawarra wine company, forged in Australia but based on the undeniable passions, traditions and values of its Italian heritage.
In vino veritas - In wine there is truth