The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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I talian Pinot Grigio can be described by a trio of terms: ubiquitous, straight- forward, and inexpensive. This is well- accepted by American wine drinkers, many of whom rely on Pinot Grigio as a refreshing "catch-all" white wine that's budget-friendly enough to buy in bulk. Yes, the category is popular, but is it in- teresting? Not so much. Some producers, however, won't settle for that depiction. Among them is Terlato Wines International, a pioneer of the Ital- ian Pinot Grigio category in the U.S. Led by CEO Bill Terlato, the company has a mission to turn Pinot Grigio on its head by creating a premium, complex wine from one of northern Italy's most exciting regions: Colli Orientali del Friuli. Eno - philes who think they know this pervasive category have certainly not yet tasted the Terlato Vineyards Pinot Grigio. Pioneering and Reinventing It's nearly impossible to find a wine shop or restaurant in the U.S. that doesn't carry the grape. As Italy currently has more Pinot Grigio vines planted than any other country, a significant portion of these offerings are Italian, particularly from the country's northeastern regions. But when Bill, a third-generation member of the family company, assessed the overall Italian Pinot Grigio category in 2013, he believed something was lacking. "The wines were bland and neutral— nothing like what Pinot Grigio could be," Bill says. "I knew we could make a bench - mark Italian Pinot Grigio that was clearly different than the rest." He set out with a goal to redefine both consumer and trade expectations for Pi - not Grigio while becoming a leader in the $15-and-over segment, and, considering his company's history, was well-equipped to do so. Bill notes that his father, Tony, "created the Pinot Grigio category here in the U.S." back in 1978, when Italian Pinot Grigio was still a rarity. But as the category took off, large producers began sourcing fruit from less-ideal vineyards geared solely toward quantity. "Over the last 40 years, as volumes grew, the wines became com - mercial and industrial and quality suffered," Bill adds. "I knew we could do better." Over its 60-year history, Terlato Wines International has established itself as a forward-thinking luxury wine producer after progressing from retail to importing, distribution, and eventually winery owner - ship and vineyard development. Following in his father's footsteps, Bill—who initially planned to attend law first press first press 6 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 by Courtney Schiessl PHOTOS COURTESY OF TERLATO WINES Bill Terlato (left) sought to make his company's hillside vineyards (below) the optimal source for Pinot Grigio.

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