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Tony Terlato, a Giant in the U.S. Wine Industry, Dies at 86

June 30, 2020

Anthony “Tony” Terlato, who devoted his life to bringing great wines to American consumers as a retailer, distributor, importer and winery owner, died early yesterday morning. He was 86.

“My brother John and I learned everything we know from our father. He taught us so much,” said Bill Terlato, CEO and president of Terlato Wine Group, the company his father established. “We were fortunate to have him for 86 years. We only wish it could have been more.”

As founder and chairman of the Chicago-based Terlato Wine Group, an importer that markets top producers including Gaja, M. Chapoutier, Piper-Heidsieck, and Nino Franco, Tony introduced Americans to high-quality wine for decades, particularly Italian wines. He almost single-handedly put Pinot Grigio on the map in the United States.

In the 1990s, Terlato’s company became a wine producer as well, purchasing California wineries such as Rutherford Hill, Chimney Rock, and Sanford, establishing brands like the Federalist and Seven Daughters, and partnering with Michel Chapoutier on wineries in France and Australia. In 2004, he was awarded Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award for his philanthropy and the incredible mark he made on wine.

“Tony Terlato did so much for the wine world,” said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator. “He knew every aspect of the business, and everything he touched he made better. Tony and I met more than 40 years ago and he, and his family, became important people in my life. He led by example, and will be greatly missed.” Wine Spectator has more on Terlato’s life and career.—Mitch Frank

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