By Rick Riozza

Back in the day, when wine writers titled their columns with a phrase of an “August Line-up”, they pretty much tried to impress their readers with a slew of recommendations numbering in the tens and twenties.  Jeez!—could you imagine trying that these days, with attention spans varying between 5 to 12 seconds!

Yeah—those days have sailed, so happily for you folks, we’ll just recommend three wonderful white wines that’ll keep your patio party going, trending, and satiated with some sexy vino before the alluring wines of autumn show on our shelves.

Many of you Coachella residents were aware of the fact that one of the most popular wine celebrities in America, from the 1970s to the 2010s, had a place out here in La Quinta for a decade or so: Any Pinot Grigio fan should recognize the name of Anthony “Tony” Terlato.   Tony passed in 2020, but his wine company thrives.


Wine history will always note that it was Tony Terlato who introduced Pinot Grigio wine to America.  Most folks back then knew about Mateus or Lancers Rosé wine, but just a handful of wine drinkers knew that Italy produced some really tasty white wine.  One of the white wines produced around Venezia region was the now famed pinot grige.

Don’t hold me on specific details, but more or less—as the story goes, Tony was in the wine biz in Chicago and decided to head out to Italy to try a new wine to compete here in the states.  On one trip, he tasted many Pinot Grigio brands and found that the
Santa Margherita brand was the most interesting.  He got a 10 year contract to exclusively sell the wine in the U.S., and the rest—well, became wine history.

The rumor was that Terlato got an additional 30 year contract to exclusively sell the grige here.  And as you know, the wine became ever popular here—even with its high selling price.  Well, as one would expect, finally, the Santa Margherita company told Tony, “hey! We don’t need you anymore—we can sell our own stuff now.”  So now the Terlato company is producing their own stuff.

Enter now: 2022 Terlato Vineyards Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali DOC

($25). For Pinot Grige lovers, they already know that the wine from the Friuli region of Italy, produces a rich expressive fruit profile.  If you wish for a sleek, sharp, and dry pinot grige—then look for a brand up in the Dolomiti mountains on the east side of the Alps.  But if you wish for fruit, along with the acidity and minerality, then Friuli is your spot.

Here’s the PR from Terlato: Nestled in the foothills of the Austrian and Slovenian Alps, the appellation creates a growing region ideal for these two varietals. The hillside Estate vineyards are expertly planted, pruned, handpicked and vinified to create full-bodied wines with expressive fruit and a distinctive mineral character. The Estate vineyards unique soil and proximity to the Alps and Adriatic Sea helps moderate temperatures and extends the growing season. The result is complex and expressive fruit and mineral character with a perfectly balanced structure. Taste is the difference.

“This wine is a light gold color. Bright notes of white peach, pear and spring flowers. Complex and layered with ripe peach, pear, citrus and a mouth filling texture with crisp mineral finish.:”

I’m personally enjoying this wine as I write this article.  I go along with Wine Spectator—who gave this wine 90 points, stating, “Fresh and balanced, with a citrusy overtone of grapefruit pith and citronella, this shows flavors of crunchy white peach, chive blossoms and minerally saline and stone. Creamy finish.”  Talk about praise for a wine!

Another Italian wine that is imported by Terlato Wines International is one of our favorite Italian whites, that we pair regularly with our pizza in Napoli, is the Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo DOC ($25). Greco di Tufo from southern Italy, Campania  Feudi di San Gregorio’s Greco di Tufo has lively acidity, spicy minerality, and notes of pear, apricots, apples, fern, and mint.

Feudi di San Gregorio’s Greco di Tufo is grown between 1,400 – 2,300 ft above sea level in deep, finely-textured, moderately alkaline and very calcareous soil. “Tufo” is not only the town, but it also means “chalk”, which gives an incredible character with a mineral taste that pairs perfectly with raw fish, bufala mozzarella, white meat dishes, grilled or fried white fish, seafood pasta, seafood risotto, vinegar salad—and of course pizza!

Believe it or not, some folks just do not like Italian whites—go figure.  But they sure love their New Zealand “Kiwi” Sauvignon Blanc!  We love being an egalitarian column, so here is our kiwi recommendation:

2023 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc ($18) New Zealand became the 6th largest wine exporter by value in 2022, though NZ wines are only 1% of global wine production.

Leading the charge is Wairau River, a vibrant, fruity, beloved NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Wairau River—meaning  “many waters” in Māori in reference to the braided river in the language of NZ’s indigenous people—is the epitome of summer wine: fruity, crisp, and refreshing, with plenty of tropical fruits and a fresh, dry finish.

This Sauv blanc shows intense lifted notes of ripe tropical fruits and citrus on the nose. Refined and elegant, displaying a finely textured palate with flavours of guava and stone fruit. Wonderfully expressive with a fresh, dry finish.  See—now everyone is happy refreshing themselves with wonderful august whites!  Cheers!