TPI grew up in Port Huron, Michigan and went to college at Albion (B.A. 1969) and Ohio State University (M.A. 1971).  I came to Spain in June 1971 with a buddy from graduate school.  We each bought a one-way ticket and had $300 to spend (back in the days of ‘Europe on $5 aDay’). We figured we would travel around Europe as long as the money lasted and then return to the USA to start our careers.  Well, on July 4 I met a Spanish lady on the beach in San Sebastian with whom I got along, so I decided, after going to Pamplona for the San Fermín festival in July and bumming around the Costa Brava making money by singing Spanish songs to German and French tourists, to stay in Madrid for awhile and see how the relationship went.  It went well because we decided to get married in June 1973!

I started working in the wine business in 1975 for Hijos de Antonio Barceló until 1983 when I was headhunted by Spain’s largest winery group SAVIN (now Bodegas & Bebidas) to be the export director of bottled wines.  This meant moving to Rioja.  In 1989 I was asked to take over the US subsidiary of B&B, so we packed up our belongings and my wife, two  children and I moved to Westport, Connecticut.

In 1992 we had to make a choice: our kids were adolescents and we agonized over educating them in Europe or the USA.  We decided on Europe, so I found a job as export director of El Coto and Barón de Ley, back in Rioja.

In 1994 I was asked to assume the directorship of the Rioja Wine Exporters’ Association, with the responsibility of running the international PR and marketing programs for the Rioja wine region, which seemed like fun after so many years of sales.

In late 2008, I was offered early retirement from the association, and decided to accept,  to allow myself time to work on ideas I’d been putting off for years (writing, photography,  lecturing and getting my golf handicap back to where it was in high school).

I’m currently self-employed as a strategic and tactical marketing consultant for the Spanish wine trade, as a wine educator and speaker on the national and international wine lecture circuit.

Writing a blog to relate my impressions of the Rioja region was on my mind for quite a while, but it took a little nudge from my friends Ryan and Gabriella Opaz at Catavino to get me to write my first post.  Now, I can’t stop!

16 thoughts on “About

  1. Congratulations Tom!
    i’ll be following your blog from Thailand…look quite interesting besides making me miss my hometown!


  2. Hola!
    I stumbled on your blog after doing a search on WordPress for “B&B blog Michigan” — because I started a blog this year about our Michigan B&B.

    Your About page came up in the search results because it includes all three search terms, and normally I would have clicked off and continued the search, but for two coincidences: One, I got my degrees from OSU in 1970 and 1972, and two, we live on Lake Huron nine miles north of the Blue Water Bridges (two of them since you left town).

    So, now you know of a place to stay (Adventure Inn) if you decide to take a trip down memory lane.

    And by the way, with advance notice, I’m sure I can link you to some suitable venue that would like to have a lecture on wines of the Rioja region, if that would be of interest.

  3. Hi Tom, a lot of emotions for me reading about your full backround, as we have share – not at the same time – companies and people experiencies…
    Take a lot of fun in your new and un-pressure life of promoting Rioja in a different way !

  4. Hello Tom!
    I really like the blog, very good job and keep it up!
    Please send me a message when you see this; I want to talk and I don’t have your private e-mail…

    -Chris Fleming

  5. Dear Tom,
    Congratulations on your new adventure! I’m looking forward to following your blog. I would like to speak with you separately regarding my being able to learn more about the wine growing region of Rioja. I am a travel consultant that specializes in wine growning regions and any info you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks kindly,próspero año nuevo!

    Marisa Lara
    Santa Rosa, Sonoma,Ca

    • Hi Rob,

      My profile is the first post I ever wrote. You can find it in April 2009. I’d like to separate it from the others but can’t seem to find out how to do it. Any suggestions?

  6. Hi Tom.

    I am currently in Biarritz. I would like to go to Rioja district this upcoming weekend. Me and my wife would like to learn as much as possible about wine making. Any suggestions of where to go, and live for the weekend?

    Thank you for your time!

    Bjoerge and Mali

  7. Pingback: Current State of Rioja Wine | Catavino

  8. Hi Tom,

    I’m a travel and food writer based in Madrid. I’m looking for some advice on the feasibility of spending a couple of days cycling and visiting bodegas in Ribera del Duero (the tourism office in Peñafiel told me there is a cycle trail between Peñafiel and Quintanilla de Onésimo). Do you know any Ribera del Duero-based wine gurus I might be able to contact to ask a few questions about cycling between those two towns and visiting wineries en route.

    Many thanks,


  9. Hi Tom, would be very interested in contacting you regarding some occasional work educating (mainly) US tourists about the wines of Rioja. Could you please drop a line with your email address to: alexistimon@gmail.com. Many Thanks. Alex

  10. Hey Tom. Enjoying the blog. Clear, informed and to the point! Well done, sir! Could you ping me an email? I’d quite like to get in touch regarding possible articles etc? Thanks – and hope the golf game is going in the right direction!
    Chris Losh

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