Wine Director Thomas Perez of Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel - Biography

Carmel By The Sea, CA

September 2011

Thomas Perez initially came from El Salvador to visit his brother for the summer in Pacific Grove, California. He loved the area so much that he remained throughout high school. As a high-schooler, Perez longed to attend culinary school, so he took a job at the restaurant Tiburon. Later, as a waiter at Highlands Inn in the Monterrey peninsula he worked the annual Masters of Food and Wine event and his dream changed direction, leading him down the path of a sommelier. He worked for the next 10 years at Highlands Inn, manning the annual events and climbing his way up the ladder from waiter to sommelier.

In 1998, a grape-rich journey through France and Germany proved a turning point in his career. While in Germany, he visited the wineries of Robert Weil, Franz Kunstler, and Bernd Phillipi. He then went on to France’s classic wine regions, visiting Moet et Chandon, Taittinger, and Louis Roederer, among others. Blame it on the grapes, but the tour prompted him to enroll in Doug Olson’s wine and spirits program in San Francisco.

Perez worked as a sommelier at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, and in 2001 he moved to Spain to study wine. Packing a Masters degree in Oenology and Viticulture from the Escuela Superior de Enologia del Pais Vasco, Perez returned to the Monterey Peninsula in 2004. He accepted a position that year at L’Auberge Carmel, managing the beverage selection at the hotel’s restaurant Aubergine. He currently works as wine director at Aubergine, and also directs the wine programs for the rest of the Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group’s properties.