The Fall and Rise of the Terlato Family
A tale of tragedy, vengeance, and grapes.
50 years ago, famous winemaker Agrias Terlato IV made a mistake. He knew he was past his prime, that his best wine making days were behind him, but he needed one more win. He needed to go out on top. So he entered the Winemaker’s Royale, the most deadly of all growers' competitions. The winner is granted seven thousands pounds of the rarest, top quality Cyprusian manure. The losers are killed.
Agrias believed that with that manure, his four children would grow great wines for years to come, and never have to fear for their well-being, or take such a desperate measure as to enter the Winemaker’s Royale themselves. He believed, too, that he had one great wine left in him.
Agrias Terlato IV… was wrong. He was slaughtered in front of his four children, his blood spilling into his own vineyard, feeding the very grapes that had failed him.
His oldest son, Montague P. Terlato, fled to the Orient, consumed by vengeance. He studied under the greatest winemakers and marital artists, preparing both to inherit his father’s legacy and to avenge his death. He mastered ancient Japanese techniques for cultivating grapes, and pursued Buddhist methods of massaging young plants to bear better fruit. As the years passed, his training brought him not only skill but, serenity as well. He let go his anger; gone was the killer, only the winemaker remained. His first truly great wine was the early Japanese precursor to the later masterpiece that was the 2004 Terlato Syrah.
His younger brother, Bellipides Terlato, had enlisted in the Merchant Marines, hoping to see the world and forget his trauma. In his years abroad, he sampled many a foreign grape, and developed a truly cosmopolitan palette. He tasted the finest wines of Italy, France, and the less relevant parts of Europe, perused the best offerings of the Californian coast, ventured as far as Australia, and even sought out the famed, if apparently apocryphal, Phantom Grape of Madagascar. It was shortly after this experience that he conceived his blend of black cherry, plum and currants, with subtle hints of violets, which would later beget the legendary 2006 Terlato Syrah. He had little desire to return home, but thought often of his dear younger sister.
Syrah Terlato was her name, named for her father’s favorite wine. Of the four siblings, only Syrah had stayed at their ancestral home, raising and harvesting the remaining grapes of her father. She believed that when his blood had spilled upon their soil, his soul had gone along with it; she believed her father’s spirit was kept alive so long as a Terlato tended his vineyard. She did so quietly, and with little actual knowledge. What she lacked in training, she made up for in mysticism, communing with what she believed to be her father’s spirit. Whether there was any truth to her beliefs remains a subject of some debate, but those few who tasted the wines of the largely forgotten Terlato Vintage during this era swear that the wines all tasted very slightly of bittersweet regret, and dreams left undreamt. Additionally, it was said to possess floral, blackberry, and white pepper tones; all three of which would later appear in the highly regarded 2007 Terlato Block 9 Syrah.
The final Terlato sibling was Syrah’s twin brother Milo. Milo had never had much of an interest in wine, only in money. Without a father figure to instill a moral code, he quickly became the lowest form of criminal: a guy who buys stuff on the internet with stolen credit cards. Like all bottom-feeding scum of that order, he was quickly caught and sent to prison. And minimum security Country Club prison. Man prison. HBO prison. While incarcerated, his wine lover’s genes finally kicked in, and he mastered the forgotten art of toilet wine. And, much to his pleasant surprise, he realized he could sell it to other inmates in exchange for cigarettes and…more cigarettes.
Years passed in this fashion, until finally Milo was released from prison. His imprisonment had made him a better man, but no less greedy. He tracked down Montague and Bellipidese, and brought them home to Syrah. Finally reunited, the four siblings vowed to combine their skills to make good on their Agrias’ dream. Not only would they run a masterful vineyard… they would enter, and win, the competition that robbed them of their father.
The plan was simple; using grapes gathered by Bellipidese, including the mythical Phantom Grape, the vines would be tended to with both Montague’s Far East technique and Syrah’s ritualism. Milo’s jailhouse ingenuity and Bellipidese’s incomparable pallet would ensure their wines reached the very maximum of their potential, and Montague’s skill and the rich Terlato soil would ensure that potential was nearly limitless. And thanks to Milo’s brilliant business acumen and prison connections, they were aided by the finest wine making equipment money and favors (bought with toilet wine all those years ago) could buy. Their family was together again, and soon they would be ready to take on the Winemaker’s Royale.
Inevitably, they will win with a Syrah. They just have to figure out which one to use.