Tony Terlato

Grant Kessler
Tony Terlato

Over the course of his 60-year career, Anthony Terlato has worked in every job along the wine supply chain—retailer, distributor, importer and winery owner. He has been a major influence in improving the quality of wine Americans put on their dinner tables.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Terlato moved with his family to Chicago, where his father opened a wine store in the 1950s. In an era dominated by sweet domestic Sherries, Terlato preferred Bordeaux and Burgundy. After marrying Jo Paterno, he went to work for her father, who owned a firm that dealt in California bulk wine. Terlato convinced Paterno to distribute bottled wines and grew the business by working with restaurants to improve their wine programs. Next, Terlato launched an import arm, assembling a stable of top producers that included Pio Cesare, Gaja and M. Chapoutier. On a trip to Italy in 1979, Terlato discovered Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and built it to nearly half-a-million cases in the U.S.

In the 1990s, he added vintner to his résumé. The family now owns Rutherford Hill and Chimney Rock in Napa Valley, among other properties, and partners with Chapoutier in Australia. Terlato earned Wine Spectator's Distinguished Service Award in 2004.