Great Wine People: Tom Cygnar

When I moved from Oregon to Colorado, one of my first challenges was to find a decent wine shop. For me, this was a serious project, because I visit wine shops all over the world when I travel, and have some expectations about selection, expertise of staff, and the condition of the wine storage.

After discovering treasures that the staff didn’t know were there in many candidate shops, I stumbled upon the Wine Company, some 45 miles to the North, in Littleton. What sold me on the shop were the owners, Tom Cygnar and Dave Tewksbery. Tom especially demonstrated far more understanding about wine and the trade than I ever would. I started making regular trips North to stock my wine cellar with his insights and discoveries.

When it came time for my annual Wine Country trip to California, I asked Tom if there were any places he could set me up for “special tastings”. Thus I discovered the insiders’ wine tours. Far better than the “herd ’em out” tours featured in the movie “Sideways”, these could last half a day and provide tastes of wines most people never experience.

After several years of that, Dave left the shop to start another business, and Tom suggested I was getting most of the benefits of being an owner, would I like to “buy in”, and get them all?

I not only jumped at the chance, I brought in a friend, as well (who sold his interest when he moved to Florida). Through it all, we tasted great wines at distributor tastings, used my Wine Company cards and contacts to arrange visits with winemakers in 20 other countries, and stocked my cellar.

Tom moved on to new efforts in the late 90’s. He first became involved with, and then took over management of, a specialty boutique wine Import firm in California. He now spreads his special wine expertise across the US through his distributors, focusing on great finds at reasonable prices.

Tom still knows more about wine than I ever will. Thank you, Tom!