NBA legend Tony Parker prepares his first foray into the wine world

1 week ago 68

Updated

Feb 13, 2024, 03:55 PM

Published

Feb 13, 2024, 03:44 PM

NEW YORK – On a hot day in France’s Provence region last September, former National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Tony Parker was picking grapes at Chateau La Mascaronne intended for its rose. Then he sat down with the vineyard crew for the regular harvest lunch.

“I felt like a rookie. I’m hands-on, and I love to be part of that tradition,” he said of the experience, while sipping the chateau’s just-released Grande Reserve rose 2022 at the New York City restaurant Benoit, before adding that he “worked hard enough to realise my back was hurting”.

Parker is better known for his lightning-fast skills on the basketball court. He helped the San Antonio Spurs win four NBA titles and was a six-time All Star. In August, he became the first French player inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

But he’s long been a wine aficionado and, after retiring in 2019, finally found time to indulge his other passion seriously. “Since age 20,” he said, “I’ve dreamed of being in the wine business.” 

In May, he’ll release his first wine, a rose from the historic estate Chateau Saint Laurent–near Avignon, in the Rhone Valley, which he purchased in 2021. “When I saw the castle, I just fell in love,” he said. 

Over lunch, the modest and laid-back star was dressed in Adidas, sweatpants and a hoodie and discussed how he became a serious wine drinker and maker. On his right hand, holding a glass, Parker sports a tattoo of a “9,” the number he wore on his Spurs jersey.  

He’s been learning the ropes as a partner in La Mascaronne and Champagne Jeeper. They’re both owned by French businessman Michel Reybier, who offers Parker an interesting entrepren...

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