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Exclusive: Santa Margherita Moving From Terlato To Wholly-Owned U.S. Import Company

July 14, 2015

Santa Margherita, one of the U.S. market’s top-selling super-premium wine brands, is leaving longtime importer Terlato Wines to join a U.S. marketing arm created by brand-owner Santa Margherita Wine Group. Effective January 1, 2016, the newly formed SM USA Inc. will begin handling Santa Margherita in the U.S. market.

Lake Bluff, Illinois-based Terlato has imported Santa Margherita for the past 35 years, building the Italian Pinot Grigio brand into a super-premium powerhouse in the U.S. market. Santa Margherita’s sales have grown from around 200,000 cases in 1994 to 700,000 cases last year. Among wines retailing at over $25 a 750-ml., Santa Margherita—which sells for around $27—is in a class by itself, more than 100,000 cases ahead of any competitor. Santa Margherita’s U.S. retail sales value was slightly above $225 million in 2014, ranking it 20th among all table wine brands, according to Impact Databank.

“The Terlato family understood (Pinot Grigio’s) potential as a standalone category, and our successful partnership positioned Santa Margherita as the undisputed pioneer and market leader,” said Gaetano Marzotto, Chairman of the Board for the Santa Margherita Wine Group, in a statement. “As we look forward to the transition of Santa Margherita to SM USA Inc., we want to express our gratitude to Anthony Terlato and his family and wish them continued success and prosperity.”

SM USA is headquartered in Miami, and led by CEO Vincent Chiaramonte, an executive at Winebow for much of the past decade. Its portfolio currently consists of the Torresella, Kettmeir, Lamole di Lamole, Sassoregale, Feudo Zirtari, and Fattoria Sardi labels.

While Terlato is losing Santa Margherita, the importer has big ambitions for a new Pinot Grigio brand in its lineup. Last week, Terlato announced that it has formed a long-term partnership with renowed Italian viticultural consultant Simonit & Sirch to introduce a pair of estate-bottled DOC wines from the Friuli region. Terlato expects combined sales of the duo—a Pinot Grigio and a Friulano, both retailing in the $22-$24 range—to surpass 250,000 cases within the next five years.

“Our family is very, very proud of our accomplishments with regard to the building of the Santa Margherita brand. We started importing it in 1980, and, today, it’s the leading premium brand in the Pinot Grigio segment in the U.S. market,” Bill Terlato, CEO of Terlato Wines, told SND. “We hope to use the same knowledge and skill to develop new brands in the category.”

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