History

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 his 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.

Pacific Wine Company
In 1946, Anthony Paterno purchased Pacific Wine Company (PW), a local bottler of California wines.

In 1955, Salvatore Terlato, opened a retail wine and spirits store, Leading Liquor Marts, one of Chicago's first self-service supermarkets, on Chicago’s North side at 5965 North Clark Street at Ridge. What set it apart from other stores was its large selection of fine imported wines, beers, and spirits, attracting well-to-do-professionals, doctors, professors and businessmen. Terlato noted the tastes of these affluent customers, and visualized an emerging market for fine wines. This is where his son Anthony Terlato's career and passion for wine began.

In 1956, Anthony Paterno’s daughter, Josephine, and Anthony Terlato were married.

Shortly thereafter, Anthony Paterno influenced his son-in-law, Anthony Terlato to join him at Pacific Wine Company following the urging of his friend Robert Mondavi. 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 '50s, ’60s and ’70s – A Focus on Quality and Distribution
Terlato began transitioning Pacific Wine into a fine wine distribution company in 1957 that attracted the attention of a number of leading fine 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 the selections of Alexis Lichine and Frank Schoonmaker, encompassing most (if not all) of the French classified Bordeaux growths and Estate Burgundies.  The portfolio also included the wines of Champagne Roederer, Beaulieu Vineyards, Robert Mondavi’s first vintage in 1967, Joseph Drouhin and Louis Latour.

 

In 1959, Josephine and Anthony Terlato welcomed son Bill and in 1960, their family grew again with son John. 

Pacific experienced a period of dynamic expansion as it focused on high-quality wines and distribution, primarily in 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 Wine was establishing itself as the premier wine distributor in the country, Paterno Imports was incorporated in 1964. Paterno Imports was originally created to import olive oil and some imported Chiantis and as a means of constant growth for Pacific. In the late ’60s, Paterno Import's portfolio and the scope of its operation began to expand, allowing it to become a valued supplier to a national distributor network in most of the United States.

The ’70s and ’80s at Terlato – Creating Categories
In the ’70s, the company continued to grow and was known as the pre-eminent supplier of quality Italian wines to the U.S. market. In the 1972, with the introduction of Corvo, Paterno Imports established 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. In that period, 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 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 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. 

With the successfully launching of Santa Margherita, Corvo, Gancia and Il Poggione, Paterno Imports was regarded as the most important supplier of high-quality Italian wines in America. Terlato’s success signaled the family’s continuing transition up the industry ladder. 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, after graduating from law school, joined the company in 1986.

The ’90s at Terlato
In 1987 the family added California brands to its portfolio with the addition of Rochioli, Markham, and Rutherford Hill, and European wines from  M. Chapoutier and Boutari, expanding 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.

In 1994, Tony Terlato became Chairman and Bill Terlato was appointed President, and John Terlato was appointed Vice Chairman. The company continued on the road to becoming the nation’s leading marketer of luxury wine.

Building on the tradition of excellence his grandfathers and father established, Bill Terlato has expanded Paterno’s original luxury portfolio beyond fine Italian wines to include premium wines from France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Greece, Oregon and California.

1996 – Winery Ownership
Bill Terlato initiated the strategic decision to move into winery ownership. His family, over three generations, had entered every other aspect of the wine business, as retailer, importer, marketer and distributor. In 1996, with the purchase of Rutherford Hill Winery, the family completed the circle and succeeded in becoming vertically integrated, operating top companies in every industry channel. Founded in 1972, Rutherford Hill pioneered the development of California Merlot, which remains its signature varietal.

Today, along with Rutherford Hill, Terlato Wine Group purchased Alderbrook Vineyards (Sonoma County); Chimney Rock Winery (Stags Leap District, Napa Valley); Terlato Family Vineyards (Napa and Sonoma); EPISODE (Napa Valley); a joint venture in 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 in 1971. The company also holds a small interest in M. Chapoutier (Rhône Valley, France) and additional joint ventures in Italy, and California.

The New Millennium

Gaja Joins the Terlato Portfolio
In 2001, after 25 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. Tony commented, "I've waited 25 years for this." Angelo responded, "Was it worth it?" Tony said, "Yes it definitely was." 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.”

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.

A Legacy of Achievement is Honored
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 Antinori 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 continued to strengthen 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 saw the Terlato portfolio expand further with Hanna and Terlato Family Vineyards in California, Champagne Bollinger and Domaine Chanson from France, Peller Estates Icewine from Canada and Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier and Two Hands Wines from Australia.

Company Names Changes to 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 would 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. 

Anthony Terlato Authors First Book 
Anthony Terlato added author to his list of accomplishments when Taste: A Life in Wine  was published in 2008 (Agate Publishing), featuring a forward by Joan Reardon. 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."

Golf Greats and Football Hall of Famer Produce Award-Winning California Wines

The Terlatos not only have a passion for quality wine, but also for golf and that has led to two new partnerships with Jack Nicklaus and Luke Donald.  Luke Donald's passion for fine wine mirrors his passion for golf, and through his friendship with Bill Terlato, Donald decided to pursue his own wine collection, with Terlato’s blessing, in 2007.  Today, the Luke Donald Collection includes a Chardonnay from Carneros, a Claret from Napa Valley and a Viognier from Sta. Rita Hills.

In 2010, Terlato Wines and golf legend Jack Nicklaus and his family announced their partnership with a line of Napa Valley wines. The inaugural vintage of Jack Nicklaus Cabernet and Private Reserve (2007) from California’s famed Napa Valley were uncorked by Nicklaus at a private event at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, regarded as the birthplace of golf.

In 2012 Terlato partnered with football great Mike Ditka, to produce a collection of wines that

recognize him as a Player, a Coach, a Hall of Famer and a Restaurateur.

Terlato Wines Partners with "Top Chef" on TV

Also in 2008, the Terlato portfolio began a starring role in “Top Chef,” Bravo TV's Emmy- and James Beard Award-winning food show that features some of the top names in gastronomy.  In 2009 Bravo together with the Terlato family crafted a line of elegant and refined wines under the Quickfire name, in honor of the show’s exciting Quickfire Challenges, where cheftestants compete in fast-paced culinary trials.  Quickfire Wines were designed to be versatile enough to complement a wide range of food styles.

The Portfolio Continues to Expand

In 2009 John Terlato became responsible for Terlato Wines' International Division which exports to 16 countries, including the U.K., China and Japan. 

With Terlato Wines known globally for its portfolio of luxury wines, the company selectively adds new brands to maintain a diverse and high quality collection that indeed reads like the World's Greatest Wine List.  Recently added wines include: Chateau de Sancerre, Langlois Chateau, Mischief & Mayhem, Chateau Timberlay and MARIUS from France; Berlucchi, MAZZONI, Goretti from Italy; Marco Abella from Spain; Kracher from Austria, Elios from the Mediterranean; Anthonij Rupert and Protea from South Africa; The Lucky Country and Twelftree Wines from Australia; Wairau River,Turning Heads and Loveblock from New Zealand; Tamari from Argentina; Lapostolle from Chile; The Federalist, Seven Daughters and Giarrusso from California.

In these newest chapters, the Terlato family continues to apply the same commitment to quality that has driven all their endeavors "quality first, quality is enduring."

Bill and John Terlato are very active in the Chicago business community, with memberships in The Economic Club of Chicago, The Commercial Club of Chicago and Young President's Organization they also serve on a number of civic and charitable boards.

In 2012 Bill Terlato was honored as Businessman of the Year by the Italian American Chamber of Commerce.

In 2013 Bill Terlato added two important Italian wines to the Terlato Wines portfolio: Nino Franco's sparkling wines, which include the world-class Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, and Cusumano wines from Sicily, "the pre-eminent producer crafting wines of the new Sicily."

Terlato Wines International continues to garner more 90+ ratings than any wine company the world and with a global portfolio of more than 60 brands from 119 appellations in 12 countries from more than 30 world-class wine producers.  Today, Terlato Wines has a 20 percent market share of wines $20+ and continues to grow its portfolio with the finest, family-owned wines from around the globe.