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May 30, 2022 View:

American wine legend Tony Terlato dies at 86

Tony Terlato, founder of the Terlato Wine Group, passed away recently at the age of 86. He was a winery owner, retailer, and distributor and importer who helped introduce Americans to Italian wine.

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Through his Chicago-based Terlato Wine Group, Terlato has introduced Americans to high-end wines like Gaya, Chateau Sapoutier and Snow White Champagne, according to Wine Spectator.

Terlato, who has Italian roots, has helped Pinot Grigio gain a reputation in the United States by heavily promoting and advertising Italian wines.

Bill Terlato, CEO of Terlato Wine Group, told Wine Spectator: Everything my brother John and I know we learned from our father. He taught us a lot and we were lucky to have him with us for 86 years.

In the 1990s, Terlato expanded into wine production with the acquisition of Roseford Hills and Chimney Rock Winery in Napa Valley, California, and Sanford Winery in Santa Barbara. Today, Terlato Wine Group owns seven wineries in California.

Born in Brooklyn, Terlato moved to Chicago at the age of 21 when his father Salvatore opened a wine store stocked with fine Bordeaux wines.

After Terlato married Josephine JoJo Paterno in 1956, he began working for his father-in-law Anthony"s Chicago-based bottling company. He quickly transformed this company into a wholesale business that supplied a wide variety of European wines to local restaurants.

To show Americans that Italian wine is more than just cheap Chianti, Terlato traveled throughout Italy to bring quality wines back to the United States.

In 2002, Terlato sold the company's distribution division to focus on wine production, marketing and importing.