Chief Executive Officer of Terlato Wine Group and Terlato Wines since 2008, William A. “Bill” Terlato continues to blaze new trails through innovation, reaffirming his family’s position as a premier importer, marketer, and vintner of luxury wine in the United States. Today, due in large part to his vision and dynamic leadership, Terlato Wines has a leading market share of wines $20 and up sold in the U.S.
Building on a tradition of excellence his father and grandfathers established more than 80 years ago, Bill Terlato has expanded the company’s luxury portfolio far beyond its original core business of importing fine Italian wines. Terlato now represents acclaimed family-owned premium wine producers from California, Italy, France, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, fostering powerful brands.
In 1994 he was appointed President of the company. As President, Terlato made the strategic decision to move into wine production and vineyard management. In 1996, with the purchase of Napa Valley’s Rutherford Hill Winery, the family completed the circle and became producers. In 2002, he led the family’s decision to sell its five Illinois distributorships, and focus all of its resources on building Terlato Wine Group (TWG), and investing in fine wine production around the world. His family, now four generations in the wine business, has achieved acclaim at every aspect of the wine business — like retailers, distributors, importers, marketers, winery owners, and vineyard developers.
Under Terlato’s leadership, more investments in winemaking and vineyards followed. Terlato Wine Group Estates and Vineyards include Rutherford Hill Winery (Napa Valley), Chimney Rock Winery (Stags Leap District, Napa Valley); Sanford Winery and Vineyards (Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara); Terlato Family Vineyards (Colli Orientali dei Friuli, Italy, Napa, Sonoma); EPISODE (Napa Valley); Klipsun Vineyard (Red Mountain WA); and the iconic Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, the first vineyard in Santa Barbara to be planted to Pinot Noir in 1971.
Bill is involved in many organizations dedicated to the knowledge and appreciation of fine wine. Current memberships include Commanderie de Bordeaux, Confrerie des Tastevin, and The Renaissance Club. He was Honorary Chair for the 2003 Detroit Wine Auction as well as the 2007 Tres Bonne Année auction in Pennsylvania.
Bill is also very active in the business community, with memberships in The Economic Club of Chicago and The Commercial Club of Chicago. In 2012, he was honored as Businessman of the Year by the Italian American Chamber of Commerce. In September 2013, he was honored as Industry Executive of the Year at the Market Watch Leaders Awards Dinner. In 2015 Cronache di Gusto named him one of the Top 100 most important people in wine globally.
Outside of the wine industry, Bill is committed to education and community. He was a member of the Steering Committee for the Lake Forest Country Day School Capital Campaign from 2002-2007 with his wife, Debbie, who co-chaired the Capital Campaign and was a trustee from 1996-2002. Bill and Debbie were both members of the Parents Committee at Duke University from 2004-2011, and co-chairs of the committee from 2008-2011. They also served on the Parents Committee at the University of Miami, where Bill is also on the Board of Advisors to the School of Communication.