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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Demetria Estate Santa Barbara County

Building on a legacy of traditional farming, family and new opportunity

John and Sandra Zahoudanis are building on a legacy of traditional farming, family, and new opportunity with their Demetria Estate Winery, ideally situated in California’s esteemed wine country in Santa Barbara County.

Located above Foxen Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley, the Demetria Estate appears as if it’s been transported directly from the heart of Rhone wine country. Its unparalleled beauty and Mediterranean feel makes it one of the most picturesque locations to produce world class wines in Santa Barbara County. 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 had grown up on a modest family farm at the base of Mount Olympus in Greece, where his family tended olive groves, citrus orchards, and a small patch of vines from which they made wine each year.

Although John was just a boy at the time, the tradition of farming and winemaking instilled in him a memory and passion he would never forget. Sadly, the family farm was devastated by the dual tragedies of World War II and the Greek Civil War, causing John’s father to relocate the entire family to the United States in search of greater opportunities and a fresh start. Greater opportunities indeed followed as John found a successful career in commercial real estate after studying economics at New York University. He also married a charming Southern belle from Charleston named Sandra and the couple moved out west to Los Angeles to raise a family. It wasn’t long before the wine country of California had John wanting to get back to his roots. He and Sandra had been enjoying frequent trips to the Napa Valley and the classic winegrowing regions of France, but it wasn’t enough. They wanted a property they could call their own - one that would produce premium wines and fulfill their long held dreams of doing something they truly loved. When they pulled up the drive to look at the Painted Hills Estate (previously owned by winemaker Andrew Murray’s family), it was like destiny had called, – and it was perfect.

The property evoked a unique Mediterranean feel and was ideally situated in the Santa Ynez Valley’s premium winegrowing region. The estate was also reminiscent of John’s childhood home in Greece, so it seemed destined to became the location to carry on the family tradition of farming and winemaking. John and Sandra purchased the Painted Hills Estate in January of 2006, renamed it, and Demetria Estate was established shortly thereafter. Demetria Estate was named after John and Sandra’s daughter, which is a fitting name as it means “goddess of harvest” in the ancient Greek language. Their son, Alexis, has been involved at the winery since day one, and is currently in the process of taking over as his parents retire.

“The winery is completely family owned and operated,” says Alexis, who currently lives on the property and oversees the day-to-day activities of the winery. “We work together to make Old World style wines for our two portfolios, all the while staying true to the region and those styles of wines that thrive here.” The two portfolios Alexis mentions are in reference to the Rhone-style wines that are produced from the Demetria Estate property in the Santa Ynez Valley, and the Burgundian-style wines that are sourced and produced from select vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills.

The winery’s rams logo represents the strength in merging these two great winegrowing regions under one label, and they’re certainly living up to this concept.

From Demetria’s initial 3,300 cases in their first year (2006), the winery has grown slowly to its present 8,200 cases, a number that Alexis hopes to see grow in the coming years. “It would be great to ramp up our production to 10,000 cases, and even beyond,” Alexis says. “But right now, we’re happy with where we are. Our distribution is going up as well - we’re now in eight states and the District of Colombia - but it’s all about managing what we can handle to keep producing the caliber of wines we like.”

The Demetria team certainly has a handle on what they’re doing right, because the wines are on par with the best coming out of the region, and a hoard of 90+ scores has been following them since the first vintage. Alexis Zahoudanis is proud of how far his family’s legacy has come, as it is truly a family dream that has been realized, sought out, and ultimately achieved. Demetria Estate is a gem of a winery, bringing the values of family tradition, dedication, and inspiring spirit to the Central Coast.

  1. Demetria
    2007 Pinot Noir
    Santa Rita Hills
    Santa Barbara County


    90 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 638
    Pinot Noir

Michael Roth’s foray into fine food and wine began at an early age

Following his grandmother’s love of cooking in New Jersey and Finland, Michael amassed a great deal of food and cooking experience at a very young age. Continuing this passion well into high school, he was steps away from a career as a chef until being persuaded to first obtain a college degree. As a budding epicurean and gourmand, Michael immersed himself in the study of fine food. It was here that his passion for wine was nurtured as an apprentice at a top local wine shop. Soon, Michael made the leap into a life of wine with a move to the Napa Valley. From the start, he found great mentors including Reg Oliver at El Molino, Nils Venge at Saddleback Cellars, and Gus Brambila at world renowned Grgich Hills Cellars. Realizing that a formal education was necessary in furthering his wine career, Michael attended California State University Fresno. Upon completion, he returned to Napa Valley where he gained experience at several wineries including Corison, Rutz, Peju, and Stonehedge. Michael brings an incredibly high level of experience and knowledge to the budding region of Santa Barbara County, and has been an incredible asset to Demetria Estate since the winery’s inaugural release.

About The Region

Demetria Estate’s 2007 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is produced from the esteemed cool climate growing region of Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County. Specifically, this Pinot Noir is sourced from key vineyards in the westernmost portion of the AVA, benefiting from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. The various soil types, slope exposures, and microclimates add complexity and allows the varietal to express its full potential. Other varietals sourced from the Santa Rita Hills include Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Demetria also produces a range of Rhone varietals from the Demetria Estate Vineyard above Foxen Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. The property consists of 213 acres of rolling hills, and at 1,500 feet, the site has the highest elevation of any vineyard in the Valley. Varietals planted in this vineyard include Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc. The estate has been biodynamically farmed since the Zahoudanis family purchased the property in 2005.

Lamb, Leek & Pecorino Pizza


All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 1/2 lbs pizza dough, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
(plus more for brushing)
2 large leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3/4 lb truffled pecorino cheese,
thinly sliced or grated
32 cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt & freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Heat a large inverted baking sheet on the bottom rack for 5 min. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 7-in. round. Oil 3 large baking sheets and place the dough rounds on the sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 min. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the leaks, season with salt and\ pepper and cook over mod. heat until softened, about 8 min; transfer to a plate. Add the 2 Tbs. of olive oil to the skillet. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook until no pink remains, about 5 min. Generously flour a pizza peel. Place a dough round on the peel and brush with olive oil. Top with some of the leeks, lamb, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. Slide the dough round onto the baking sheet and bake for about 4 min, until bubbling and crisp. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve

Chile-Honey Glazed Salmon with Black Bean Sauce, Tomatillo Salsa & Jalapeno Crema


1 lb tomatillos, husked
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
8 garlic cloves, 2 chopped
3 large jalapenos, stemmed
1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup honey
1 canned chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1-19 oz can black beans with its liquid
1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Four 8 oz salmon filets, with skin
1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the tomatillos on a roasting pan along with half of the onion, the 6 whole garlic cloves and the jalapenos. Toss with 2 Tbs. of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35 min, until tender. Transfer the vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth. Add the lime juice, chopped cilantro and 2 Tbs. of the honey and pulse to blend. Season the tomatillo salsa with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Rinse out the blender. In a medium saucepan, heat another 2 Tbs. of the oil. Add the chipotle, cumin, chopped garlic and remaining onion and cook over mod. heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 min. Add the beans with its liquid and 1/4 cup of water and cook over low heat for 15 min. Transfer the black bean mixture to the blender and puree until smooth. Season the sauce with salt. Rinse the blender. Place Mexican crema (or sour cream) and one roasted jalapeno into the blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 Tbs. of honey with the ancho chile powder and mustard and season with salt. Brush the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the fish skin side down over mod. high heat until very crisp, about 3 min. Cook the fish on the remaining 3 sides just until lightly charred, 3 min. longer. Brush the salmon with the chile-honey glaze and grill skin side up until lightly caramelized, 2 min. Spoon the tomatillo salsa on plates and top with the salmon. Garnish with jalapeno cream and the cilantro sprigs and serve with the black bean sauce.