Demetria Estate – It’s good to be “Gravy”…

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Ever want to take a road trip with no destination in mind, drive really fast on a long winding country road?  Well that’s just what this Food Stalker did a few weeks ago in Santa Barbara. Once I get California Wine on the brain, it’s hard to redirect. I  headed for the hills and you won’t believe what I uncovered.  A private hidden gem tucked off the beaten path that has the feeling of old world charm without the pricey airline ticket to get there. It’s quite simple; grab your car keys, fill up the tank and fasten your seatbelt. Truth be told, I still get a little canine jolt of excitement when I hear the rattling of the car keys! Taxes could wait, but hand-made wine couldn’t. That’s how it is when I get that urge…

Private? Not a problem! As I drove the back country roads above Foxen Canyon Wine Trail I noticed a sign, “Demetria Estate”. Sure I had been down this road before with Mr. Best back in the day, but this little jewel must have slipped us by as we sipped the day away wine tasting. Look, I can’t divulge all my secrets for gaining access but let’s just say where there’s a will, there’s a way. Suddenly, on impulse, my car was driving through the large iron gate up the long windy driveway to the family home and winery. (Not to mention the fact you need a reservation, there’s a gate-code and the driveway with vineyards on both sides seems like it’s 5 miles long). Imagine a charming winery that transports you to a villa in France with sweeping views of vine-covered hills and gardens burgeoning with jasmine, lavender and flowering cherry blossom trees. Picture a Tuscan plastered building with massive weathered doors, hand-painted rams heads above and a trickling water fountain to greet you.  Envision a small pebble stone patio landscaped with lush trees and breathtaking views of green pastures. Tables and chairs, encourage you to kick back, enjoy your own picnic and sit, sip and linger wine while basking in the afternoon sunlight. Welcome to Demetria Estate!

We were welcomed by owner John Zahoudanis, a man dedicated to creating fine wines. Established in 2005, Demetria Estate is a family run winery.  Son and General Manager Alexis shares the same passion. Their wines are artfully crafted to showcase the unique growing conditions of both the Santa Ynez Valley and the Santa Rita Hills. 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. Overall John’s greatest joy in watching his guests enjoy the fruits of his labor. Having the opportunity each day to see his customers sipping wines he and his family created brings a joy that is most obvious by the twinkle in his eye and warm smile he shares with everyone he meets. John is leaving a legacy for his children and grandchildren, something he is most proud of.

As we swirled glasses of Pantheon in balloon goblets to toast the day, the deeply regal red warmed and softened, along with my heart.  Yes, I’m just an American Stalker girl hopelessly enamored with fashion and eating, obsessed with heirloom tomatoes the way some women are obsessed with designer handbags, but able to know a gem when I find one. Trust me, this was it! Our tasting included:  Cuvee Constantine – On the palate gorgeous and balanced flavors of Herbs de Provence, plum, earth and black cherry liquor. “North Slope” Syrah – This reserve is a deep purple in color with an attractive bouquet of black cherries, raspberry and black olives. Chardonnay – Light floral notes are highlighted by hints of vanilla and a lingering stoney finish. Aromatically complex with layers of  crisp green apple lemon core, honey-dew melon and dried apricot. My personal favorite was the 2010 Pantheon- medium bodied, full flavored, yet leaving you craving a second glass. (or third) It’s the perfect every day wine, good value and of course we drove away with a case…

In speaking with the owners we learned that the friendly pup who accompanied our table Gravy was rescued. Upon discovering his mistreatment, they took him in and he now lives on a 268 acre estate, chasing birds, dashing through the hillside, getting treats and as many pats on the head as a dog can handle. How cool is that? Yea folks, it’s good to be Gravy!

For may of us, the travel experience is enriched by the foods and wines we enjoy. In my opinion, the best meal you’ll ever have is when you have good tablemates and you are ready for a good time. Memories were made over roasted tomatoes with olive oil and garlic, Stilton with honey, crackers and baguette, wine, and of course, treasured friends. Having a sense of place along with some incredible wine adds that emotional quotient to the overall experience. Don’t you agree? For this Food Stalker though there’s something about getting lost. You set out on a mission for a bounty of stalker tales wandering impulsively off the beaten path, getting lost on purpose, capturing all the moments. Hey, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Once you tire of being lost you activate your cell phone GPS and find your way back. Now that’s a day well spent! Go ahead – wander where ever your spirit takes you – without reservations – life is an endless drive-through menu after all…

Travel is the art form available to every man. You sit in a coffee shop in a strange city, nobody knows or cares who you are, and so you shed your your checkered past and your motley credentials and you face the day unarmed.” – Garrison Keillor





  1. bob oswaks

    March 19, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Demetria is one of my favorite wineries. We live a few minutes from there and always take guests there as it’s situated so beautifully in the hills with the surrounding vineyards.

  2. Pamela Lopez

    March 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Sensational! Stunning! Scrumptious! Like a simultaneous visit to the movies “Sideways,Under the Tuscan Sun, & Bottle Shock”. Jealous…Will share.

With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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