“Before this, most of the civilized world had
sanctions against South Africa with 100 percent
duties. It was an uncertain time and the value of
the Rand was quite favorable vs. the US dollar, so
I started importing leather seating into North
America. One thing led to another and I
eventually started a furniture manufacturing plant
in the former Transvaal region outside of a small
town named Costa close to the Botswana
border. I obviously fell in love with South African
wines and made friends with several of the
vintners and owners of the wine farms in the
“We manufactured tables made from autumncolored
slate which exists only in South Africa. I
exhibited these tables twice yearly, in April and
October, at the High Point, N.C. furniture
markets. As I entertain nightly during that time,
I would put 40 to 50 cases of wine on my sample
containers coming twice a year for the market.
Finally, I was notified by US Customs that they
would not let these quantities into the country
anymore unless I had a license to import wine. I
got my import license so I could bring in my
wines legally. My wine farms brought it to my
attention that I buy more wine from them in two
weeks out of the year than their US importers
bought all year long, and they asked me to
become their importer for the States. And that
is how I got into the wine distribution business
by accident. That was 15 years ago, now my
boutique South African vineyards are gaining
fame in Florida and the U.S.”
Terry said one of his farms, Hartenberg, has gotten
notice for two of the best varietals in the world over
the past decade.
“Recently their Stork Shiraz took number one in
the world at the world’s most prestigious Syrah
competition, the “Shiraz du Monde” in the Northern
Rhone Valley of France,” he said. “Their estate Merlot
took number one Merlot in the world at IWSC –
International Wine & Sprit Competition – in London.
Not many vintners can claim two top honors in a
One of Terry’s other African wine farms, Mellasat,
produces the only white Pinotage in the world.
“I tell white wine drinkers to taste it at their own
peril as they may never go back to another white
after tasting. Unlike many whites, where you may
taste mineralogy, or citrus or floral or grass or oak or
butter, in the White Pinotage you taste nuttiness and
creaminess. And because it is made from a red grape
that only grows successfully in South Africa, it is also
one of the lowest sulfite white wines in the world.”
Most of restaurants on the island carry Terry’s
wines, including The Gasparilla Inn & Club, The
Temptation, PJ’s Seagrille and 3rd Street Bar & Bistro.
They can also be found at BNT Liquors just off island,
and at Vino Loco in Englewood.
With the thought he might take some time and
enjoy more of life, Terry recently hired 15 new sales
people to represent him, in addition to the two he
already had. Not many people can say it takes 15
people to match the work of one man, but with Terry
it is apparent that is the case. He is ready to slow
down, though, and he’s looking forward to entering a
new phase and spending more time on the island –
the one place he truly calls home.
“While I have no plans for retirement, I
do plan to slow down a bit and take a load
off,” he said. “It’s time.”
The intricate carvings incorporated into some of
Terry’s furniture designs are phenomenal.
Terry with some friends he made in India.