The Beginning – Roots in Retail
Terlato Wines International’s beginnings trace back to 1938 in Chicago, with a retail store. That year, Anthony Paterno opened this store at Grand and Western Avenues on the city’s West Side. What started out as a small operation — where neighborhood customers would fill their pitchers with wine tapped directly from an oak barrel — eventually blossomed into a full-service wine, liquor and grocery store.
Years later, Paterno’s daughter Josephine married Anthony Terlato, whose own father opened a retail wine and spirits store in the 1950s on Chicago’s North side at 5965 North Clark Street at Ridge. Anthony Terlato’s career — and passion for wine — began at his father’s store, Leading Liquor Marts, one of Chicago’s first self-service stores. What set it apart was its selection of fine imported products, attracting well-to-do-professionals, doctors, professors and businessmen. Terlato noted the tastes of these affluent customers, and saw and emerging market for the world’s fine wines.
Pacific Wine Company
In 1946, Anthony Paterno, Anthony Terlato’s father-in-law, purchased Pacific Wine Company, a local bottler of California wines. The Pacific Wine experience was the foundation for what would become the country’s largest distributor of premium wines. In the ensuing years, the Terlato family businesses have expanded into international marketing and sales, wine production, winery investments, vineyard ownership and development.
The ’60s and ’70s – A Focus on Quality and Distribution
Pacific’s transition to fine wine distribution the 1950s attracted the attention of many leading wine suppliers worldwide. Through the ’60s and ’70s, Pacific became known as the industry’s leading fine wine distributor, assembling a portfolio of best-in-class wine suppliers including Alexis Lichine, Frank Schoonmaker, most (if not all) of the French classified growths, Champagne Roederer, Beaulieu Vineyards, Robert Mondavi’s launch in 1967, Joseph Drouhin and Louis Latour.
Pacific experienced a period of dynamic expansion as it focused on high-quality wines and distribution, primarily in fine restaurants. This approach was contrary to industry convention, but appreciating and leveraging the link between fine wine and fine dining became one of the core philosophies of the family.
The success of Pacific marked the family’s first transition up the channel — from retailers to wholesalers.
1964 – Paterno Imports
At the same time that Pacific was establishing itself as the premierwine distributor in the country,Paterno Imports was incorporated in 1964. Paterno was originally created to import wines as a means of consistent growth for Pacific. In the late ’60s, Paterno’s portfolio and the scope of its operation began to expand, allowing it to become a valued supplier to its national distributor network. By 1970, Paterno had secured distribution for its products in most of the United States.
The ’70s and ’80s at Terlato – Creating Categories
In the ’70s, the copmany continued to grow and was known as the pre-eminent supplier of quality Italian wines to the U.S. market. In the early ’70s, with the introduction of Corvo, Paterno created a category that did not exist in the U.S. market — that of Sicilian wines. Within four years, Corvo had become one of the best selling Italian wines in America.
Following the success of Corvo, Anthony Terlato recognized that the American consumer was looking for higher quality wines; at the time, many fine Italian wines were not available in the United States. In the late ’70s, Terlato scoured Italy in search of a new wine that could satisfy the growing appetite in America. In 1979 he found it, and under his direction, Paterno launched Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio in the U.S. market. At the time, Pinot Grigio was a relatively unknown varietal in this country; consequently, the launch of Santa Margherita did not just create a major brand, but an entirely new wine category. Today, Pinot Grigio is the fastest growing varietal, and Santa Margherita is the best-selling imported wine over $14.00 in U.S. history.
By 1984, the Wine & Spirits restaurant poll named Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio “The most requested Italian wine in U.S. restaurants,” and by 1988 it was named “the most requested imported wine in U.S. restaurants,” an honor the brand still holds today in 2012.
Having successfully launched brands like Santa Margherita, Corvo, Gancia and Il Poggione, Paterno Imports became the most important supplier of high-quality Italian wines in America. Terlato’s success signaled the family’s second transition up the industry ladder – from wholesaler to importer. During this era both sons, Bill and John, joined their father in the family company. Bill joined the company in 1981 and served as the first brand manager for Santa Margherita. His brother, John, joined the company in 1986.
The ’90s At Terlato – Expansion
A new decade brought a new generation of family leadership in the organization. In 1994, Bill Terlato ascended to the role of President, and under his leadership, the company has become the nation’s leading marketer of luxury wine in the United States.
Building on the tradition of excellence his grandfathers and father established, Bill Terlato has expanded the Paterno’s luxury portfolio beyond fine Italian wines to include premium wines from France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Greece, Oregon and California.
With the addition of California brands including Rochioli, Markham, Cuvaison and Rutherford Hill, and European brands like M. Chapoutier and Boutari, the company expanded its portfolio of best-in-class, premium wines from around the world. It also became one of the largest suppliers of premium Napa Valley wine in the United States. Today, the company is represented by more than one out of every eight bottles of wine over $14 sold in America.
1996 – Winery Ownership
As President, Bill Terlato acted on the strategic decision to more into wine production. His family, over three generations, had entered and mastered every other aspect of the wine business — as retailer, importer, marketer and distributor. In 1996, with the purchase of Rutherford Hill Winery, the family had completed the circle and succeeded in becoming vertically integrated, operating top companies in every industry channel. Founded in 1976, Rutherford Hill pioneered the development of California Merlot, which remains its signature varietal.
Today, along with Rutherford Hill, TWG also owns Alderbrook Vineyards (Sonoma County); Chimney Rock Winery (Stags Leap District, Napa Valley); Terlato Family Vineyards (Napa and Sonoma); EPISODE (Napa Valley); Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier (Victoria, Australia); and holds majority interest in Sanford Winery (Santa Barbara County), and sole ownership of the iconic Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, the first vineyard in Santa Barbara to be planted to Pinot Noir. The company also holds interests in M. Chapoutier (Rhône Valley, France) and joint ventures in Australia, Italy, Spain and California.
2001 – Gaja
In 2001, after 20 years of correspondence and discussion between Angelo Gaja and the Terlato family, it was announced that Terlato had become the sole U.S. agent for the wines of Angelo Gaja. Of this association, Gaja said: “As we enter a new phase in our evolution, Terlato’s experience in developing markets for leading winemakers from Italy and around the world will help us continue to grow while maintaining our absolute commitment to quality.”
2002 – Sale of Distributorships
In 2002, Bill Terlato led the strategic decision to sell its five Illinois liquor distributorships. This decision allowed the Terlatos to focus all of their resources on building Terlato Wines International, their international marketing organization, and investing in fine wine production around the world.
2003 – 2006 A Legacy of Achievement
In 2003, Wine Enthusiast magazine named Anthony J. Terlato its Man of the Year, crediting him for “changing the way Americans drink.” In 2004, Terlato joined the likes of Julia Child, Robert Mondavi, Angelo Gaja and Piero Antonieri when he received Wine Spectator magazine’s Distinguished Service Award. And in 2006, Terlato was honored with the Horatio Alger Award and inducted as lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association, whose members include former Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan; former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell; former U.S. Senator Robert J. Dole and the Reverend Billy Graham.
As Terlato was recognized for his achievements, the company again strengthened its position as the leading marketer of luxury wine, earning more 90+ ratings from top industry publications than any wine company in the world.
The years 2004-2006 also brought the addition of new global brands to the Terlato portfolio, including: Italy: Baglio di Pianetto, Barone Ricasoli and Gagliole; California: Hanna and Terlato Family Vineyards; France: Champagne Bollinger, Domaine Chanson and Domaine Louis Moreau; Canada: Peller Estates Icewine; and Australia: Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier, Branson Coach House and Two Hands Wines.
2007 – Terlato Wines International
In 2007, Bill and John Terlato announced the company’s name change from Paterno Wines International to Terlato Wines International. Just as Anthony Terlato had worked for decades to create a business that was a worthy tribute to his father-in-law, Anthony Paterno, the Terlato sons wanted to honor their father in the same way: a fitting tribute to Anthony Terlato’s success in every aspect of the wine industry — retailing, distribution, importing, marketing and the production of fine wines.
The name change to Terlato Wines International marked the first step in comprehensive rebranding initiative that will bolster the company’s leadership position and renew its commitment to industry innovation and excellence.
Early in 2007, the Terlato luxury portfolio expanded with the addition of five acclaimed South African brands: Cirrus, Engelbrecht Els, Ernie Els, Guardian Peak and Rust en Vrede.
Then, in the autumn of 2007, the Spanish wines of Bodegas Olvena joined the TWI portfolio. Olvena’s Somontano vineyards cover 210 hectares in the Pyrenees, near the French border. This famed region is known for the blending of international and indigenous varietals to make the finest wines in Spain.
2008 – Spirits, Winemaker’s Blends and Celebrities
Anthony Terlato added author to his list of accomplishments when in 2008 Taste: A Life in Wine was published by Agate Publishing. The book received positive reviews and was reprinted in paperback in 2009 with Publishers’s Weekly commenting that those interested in wine will “appreciate this chance to hear from a man who has kept a low profile, even as he influenced the landscape of American dining.
The Terlato’s not only have a passion for quality wine, but also for golf and that has led to two new partnerships Jack Nicklaus and Luke Donald. Displaying wisdom about wine is perhaps as important to golfer Luke Donald as sinking a 30-foot putt. A star on the PGA circuit and a personal friend of Bill Terlato, Donald decided to pursue the production of wine with his own namesake – with Terlato’s blessing. The result has been the Luke Donald Collection, which includes a Chardonnay from Carneros, and a Claret from Napa Valley.
In June of 2010, Terlato Wines and golf legend Jack Nicklaus and his family announced their partnership on Jack Nicklaus Wines, a new line of handcrafted, limited-production wines from California’s famed Napa Valley. In a nod to golf history and tradition, the first bottles of the inaugural vintage—the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Private Reserve—will be uncorked by Nicklaus at a private event at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, globally recognized as the birthplace of golf.
The Terlato portfolio began a starring role in “Top Chef,” Bravo’s Emmy and James Beard Award-winning, No. 1 food show on cable that features some of the top names in food. And in 2009 Bravo partnered with the Terlato family to craft two elegant and balanced wines for its brand. Named for the show’s exciting Quickfire Challenge, where chef'testants compete in fast-paced culinary trials, Quickfire Wines take on the ultimate challenge—to be versatile enough to complement a wide range of food styles.
In these newest chapters, the Terlato family continues to apply the same commitment to quality that has driven all their endeavors. With interests in the world’s most esteemed winemaking regions, they are changing — for the better — the way the world drinks.
Terlato Wines International continues to garner more 90+ ratings than any wine company the world and with a global portfolio of more than 50 brands from world-class wine producers, TWI markets more than one out of ten bottles of wine over $14 sold in America.