4-Time NBA Champion Tony Parker Is Ready For A Big Win With His New Wine And Champagne Labels

Tony ParkerPhoto Credit: SÉBASTIEN CLAVEL


Tony Parker
Tony Parker and Michel Reybier


Tony Parker is the latest athlete to transition from the basketball court into the wine game. The four-time NBA championship title holder and former San Antonio Spurs star has put down roots in his native France in more ways than one, after joining forces with entrepreneur Michel Reybier of Cos d’Estournel fame to launch labels including Château La Mascaronne in Provence and champagne brands Michel Reybier and Jeeper.

For the French-American Parker, who grew up loving and drinking wine at home in Lyon, this has been a long-held dream, but one he knew would one-day come true. He began traveling to Bordeaux in his off-seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, inviting winemakers back to Texas to sit courtside at his NBA games, cultivating relationships with sincerity and trust (and getting to drink some damn good ’82 wines — his birth year — in the process).

Now, the 40-year-old athlete — who also happens to be both the first French player to be crowned NBA champion and the first European player to receive the title of NBA Finals MVP — is spending his time with Reybier on the ring-shaped property of Château La Mascaronne in Le Luc, where olive trees border the château’s ancient stone walls, with terroir and conditions ideal for producing an outstanding rosé, where wine is more prevalent than water. It’s a good life.

Parker has made a second career out of investing in new ventures, such as the French professional basketball team LDLC ASVEL, the production company Infinity Nine Media, and the Tony Parker Adéquat Academy — and his longtime love of wine is just the latest passion project under his belt. I sat down with the Legion of Honor and National Order of Merit award-winner en route to the New York City Food & Wine Festival to discuss how his wine label came to be, where he’s taking the brand next, and why simply being French perfectly prepared him for this new frontier.

Tony ParkerPhoto Credit: SÉBASTIEN CLAVEL

Haute Wine & Spirits: Let’s talk about the fact that you have your own wine. Big congratulations!
Tony Parker: I’m very excited. It’s been something that I wanted to do for a long time. Growing up in France, it’s in our culture, you know — and I love drinking wine. I love everything about wine, and how you share it [around the table]. Growing up, I was 17 the first time that I tried my first sip of wine. I was like, “Oh! That’s pretty good. That’s something maybe I’m going to like.” I was never a beer guy; wine was always the drink for me. And so, I was very blessed and lucky to play for a team where my coach [and San Antonio Spurs President Gregg Popovich] truly loved wine. He had a 3,000-bottle collection in his house in San Antonio. But back in the day, when I first arrived in the U.S. in 2001, a love of wine was not that common, but then French chefs started heading to America, creating some of the best restaurants in the world. Now, you can eat really well in the U.S., because the most famous french chefs have their own restaurants. And wine really followed. Now, you can see that everybody in the NBA has their own thing, like Carmelo [Anthony] and Dwyane Wade; Steph Curry too. Chris Paul invested in a rose. So, for me, it’s nice to see the guys enjoying wine like that. ‘Cause, me, I grew up with it.

HW&S: The wine culture in the NBA is off the hook right now. But it wasn’t always that way.
TP: When I first arrived, not at all. When I first arrived, it was more like, hard alcohol, more hip-hop. Everyone drank Hennessy, and vodka; that kind of stuff. And slowly but surely, you know, it changed a little bit. Jay-Z started it with his Armand de Brignac champagne, and then everybody followed suit with the wines. It’s pretty cool for me to see this. When I was playing, every summer, I would go back to France, visit my favorite vineyards, and try to build relationships with those people. It’s very hard to get the allocations sometimes, because the best wines go super-fast. And so, I’ve built some great relationships. Every year for the last 15 years, I would invite one or two vineyards and a champagne to come have a dinner in San Antonio with me and Coach Pop. And then the next day, they got to sit and watch a Spurs game. I really built great relationships — and I built a nice collection. And then slowly but surely, I was arriving at the end of my career. I was thinking about investing in wine, because I didn’t want to do it while I was playing. I always told myself, “I’m going to do it when I retire, when I have the time.” You have to spend time on something if you want to do it right. I was lucky enough a about a year-and-a-half ago to meet [French entrepreneur] Michel Reybier, who owns the best wines in the world. He was working on a project, La Mascaronne, out of Bordeaux. At the time, we were just talking as friends, but after a year he was like, “Hey, if you want, you can come join me in this adventure.” I was so lucky because it’s very hard to invest in good wineries, because most of them are owned by the same families for generations, or they sell to LVMH at a big price tag. I was very lucky indeed to have MM Reybier trust me.

HW&S: Do you think you have an advantage, being French, getting to know the top French wineries?
TP: It helps for sure. I have an advantage for sure. Because I’m French, [French vintners] were happy every time I came to a vineyard. They were like, “Oh, you came all the way here to see us!” They were grateful, and really nice. So every time that they would host me, they would open a 1982 vintage, which is one of the best years in wine, and also the year that I was born. So these vineyards would be like, “We have a good reason now to open an ’82.”

Tony Parker
Tony Parker and MM Reybier


HW&S: Wow. So you’ve been flexing with wine, like, full stop, almost your whole life.
TP: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Every time I had five or six free days in the summer, I would go to Bordeaux and visit different castles.

HW&S: Do you have a wine profile that you tend to gravitate to?
TP: So, it’s always a big war in France between Bordeaux and Burgundy as to which one you prefer. I’m more of a Bordeaux guy, I have to admit. Don’t get me wrong, I like Burgundy — it’s a very high-quality wine, too — but if I had to choose, I would go with Bordeaux.

HW&S: That being said, you’re making three types of wine, none of which are Bordeaux. There’s Château La Mascaronne, a red, white, and rosé out of Provence, as well as Jeeper and Michel Reybier Champagnes.
TP: That’s right. Château La Mascaronne is out of Provence. So, that’s different terroir. Provence is in the south of France, in Lelouch. We bought the property from Tom Bove, who was the owner of Miraval, the rosé that Brad Pitt owns. We knew that the quality was amazing, and everything was kept in great shape. He just didn’t really do anything with it, you know? So, we knew we had a special thing, and that we could go to the next level with MM Reybier, who has over 20 years of experience with Cos d’Estournel. Our goal is to try to make a super high brand of rosé with La Mascaronne.

HW&S: Okay, so, on that note, how often are you drinking your wines?
TP: A lot, because I wouldn’t invest if I didn’t love it. So, especially now, every time my friends come, they all want to try it. But I really love our champagne, Jeeper, too, which is out of Reims, right outside Paris. Jeeper’s got a great story. It has an American feel. [The story is that] during the war, the owner of Jeeper was wounded, and an American soldier brought him back to his vineyard. And so, in honor of him, he called it Jeeper — because [the soldier] brought him back in a Jeep. The story, the [brand’s] connection with Americans, as well as the vineyard, resonated with me because I’m 50-50, half French, half American, and I thought it was pretty cool that Jeeper could connect the two in its story.

HW&S: Did you get to learn a lot about the winemaking process, and did you know a lot about it before you started working with MM Reybier?
TP: Yes. Of course I knew a lot about it. But I do feel like each property has its own thing, and so I feel like I’m always learning. I’m not going to say I’m a specialist. And I will never pretend that I can talk like a specialist; I like to say it like me. I like to say yes, I like it. No, I don’t like it. I’m not going to go into the specifics. But yes, I have learned a lot — especially with La Mascaronne and Jeeper; I’ve been to the harvests, tried [grapes] from each parcel of land, mixing and testing until I found the right one.

HW&S: Did you always intend to start a wine label? Obviously, you’ve been cultivating these relationships for a while, and it seemed like a natural evolution for you to get into the wine business. But was it something that you actively would have done if somebody hadn’t come to you?
TP: Yeah, I was looking. I was looking anyway, but I feel just very blessed that I could do this with [Michel Reybier], because he’s got unbelievable properties. It’s nice to be able to go through all that process and know that you can make some of the best wine and champagne in the world.

Château La Mascaronne
Château La Mascaronne

Photo Credit: Bastide

HW&S: How hands on are you with all this? Do you have a say when it comes to branding, marketing, or how you’re going to roll things out?
TP: Right now, I’m learning, and I’m very happy because MM. Reybier, has really taken me under his wing. He basically lets me do as much as I want. So, right now I’m really like a sponge, learning everything, trying to go to all the meetings and stuff like that because I really want to be ready one day to have more input on how we’re making the wine. But right now, I’m in the learning process.

HW&S: Do you think you’ll ever do, like, a special edition with your name on it specifically?
TP: Yeah, why not? Maybe a special cuvee. With MM Reybier, everything is possible. Right now the brand is very strong, and the quality is really high, and our focus is on developing more in the U.S. But one day, yeah, I would love to do that.

HW&S: What has been the hardest part of launching a brand? I hear promotion is deceptively difficult.
TP: I really don’t mind because it’s in my culture to do a lot of dinners. I enjoy them. I love people; I’m very social. I own a basketball team, a men’s team, a woman’s team, an academy, and every business that I’m doing now involves a lot of events, and at the same time, I can also drink my wine, which is pretty cool.

HW&S: And introduce other people to it.
TP: Exactly. If you love people, and you’re social, and you like to share stories, investing in wine and champagne is one of the best things you can do.

HW&S: It’s got to be like a dream come true.
TP: For me as a French guy, for sure.

HW&S: So, is there any specific place you want to take the brand in the future? Or right now you’re just, like, enjoying the fact that you actually own a wine brand?
TP: Obviously right now, the goal is to make the best wine at the highest quality. Everything is natural. We are very, very tough on the quality of wine and champagne that we want to make. MM Reybier’s vision fits perfectly with what I want to do, because I want to focus on the high-end and also make sure we’re careful with the environment. We harvest everything by hand.

Château La Mascaronne
Parker and Reybier


HW&S: That makes sense. So, moving on, there is this preconceived notion in America that champagne in particular is just something that you either celebrate with or you have before a meal. Is that the case in France as well?
TP: Yes, that’s what we do. But I love to do champagne dinners, too. I love meals with different vintages, highlighting just champagne. So usually, yes, we do like the U.S. — we drink champagne as an appetizer before the dinner or dessert — but in France, sometimes we do the whole dinner with just champagne.

HW&S: So, what are your days looking like right now? What are you spending your hard-earned free time on?
TP: Right now, I’m taking care of my businesses. We have a group called Infinity Nine Group, and I have a three pillars that I invest in: sports, education, and wellbeing. That’s why I have my champagne and wine investments; I just focus on the stuff that I’m passionate about. I’m in the position where I can choose how I can spend my time, and that’s priceless. Because when I played in the NBA for the last 20 years, you could never choose your schedule. Now I can choose my schedule, and it’s my favorite thing to do. So, I just do the stuff that I love and I really don’t feel like I’m working, you know? I really feel like I don’t count my hours. If I spend the whole day at the vineyard, it’s fine. I go to the academy, play with the kids, then I go watch my team play. I just do stuff that I love.

HW&S: Do you still watch a lot of NBA games?
TP: I do watch a lot of NBA — mainly because I can always recruit some players that are not quite ready for the NBA on my men’s team. They have to go to Europe to play for one or two years before going back to the NBA.

HW&S: I want to go back to a second to talk about players and the shift in wine culture within the NBA. Nowadays, you can flaunt your wealth and taste with wine knowledge as easily as with an expensive watch. How did this evolution come to be, do you think?
TP: That’s why I love watching the stories of all the guys, you know. They’re like, “Oh, I drink that vintage,” or “Look what I drank last night, that vintage,” you know? It’s pretty cool. Because me, I grew up with that. And now to see all the guys really enjoying and taking the time to enjoy a great wine is pretty cool to see. As for the evolution of the NBA, you know, back in the day, everybody wore baggy T-shirts and big shorts, big everything, and then the NBA changed a rule and everybody had to dress up nice and wear suits and stuff like that. The dress code, I think, helped the NBA to see differently. And then another level of fashion came into play. When you look at Russell Westbrook or Dwyane Wade, it’s pretty cool to see guys are having fun, you know, with it. And then the wine came.

HW&S: So, it’s just like the natural evolution.
TP: Yeah, that’s how I feel.

Tony ParkerPhoto Credit: SÉBASTIEN CLAVEL

HW&S: Have you tried any of the other athlete-owned wines?
TP: I tried Steph’s and D Wade’s wines. I still haven’t had a chance to try Carmelo’s. I need to try that one. They’re doing a good job. I feel like California wine is really improving.

HW&S: I’ll have to get on trying more, I suppose! So, at this very moment in time, you’ve just released the wine. What’s next, do you think, for you, your wine, and your other ventures?
TP: I’m here for the long run. And that’s why I decided to go with MM Reybier, precisely because I want to be there for the long run. I want to keep improving and buying more properties. Me personally, I would love to have a group of different wines. I would love to invest in the U.S. too, in a California wine. I want to grow my wine portfolio.

HW&S: And do you have any goals, personal goals or career goals, moving forward?
TP: The goal is to make sure that all our wines are at the best tables in France, in the U.S., and around the world.

HW&S: Fair play. I just have two more questions. The first: two of your Big Three players on the Spurs — Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili — made it to the NBA Hall of Fame. Is that one of your goals as well?
TP: Yes. It would be an unbelievable feeling. Obviously, having my jersey retired was already unbelievable, and I can only imagine being inducted in the Hall of Fame. It would be an amazing feeling. We’ll see. It’s not my decision, but it will be a great honor if it happens.

HW&S: And my last question is this: What to you is the greatest luxury in life, and why?
TP: The greatest luxury in life? Being healthy, and being able to enjoy life. I feel like as I’m getting older, being healthy and enjoying it, and watching my kids grow, is the most unbelievable feeling in the world.


La Mascaronne
La Mascaronne



Jeeper Grand Assemblage champagne


60% Chardonnay 25% Pinot Noir 15% Meunier
TERROIR: Dual climate (oceanic & continental), limestone subsoil and sloping vineyard


Jeeper Grand Rosé


88% Chardonnay 12% Pinot Noir
Dual climate (oceanic & continental), Limestone subsoil and sloping vineyard


La Mascaronne
Chateau La Mascaronne Blanc


Marked by a dry and hot summer, this vintage saw deeply rooted vines resist these conditions and give the berries remarkable concentration. The Vermentino, picked at the end of harvest, largely contribute to making Château La Mascaronne Blanc 2020 a balanced and complex wine, with notes of juicy yellow peach, apricot, and exotic fruits.


La Mascaronne
Château La Mascaronne Rosé


With its pale pink and silver reflections, the 2021 vintage of Château La Mascaronne Rosé is first marked by the elegance and delicacy of its aromas, with notes of peach, apricot, and white flowers. Then comes the freshness, carried in-mouth by citrus fruits, and finally the delicacy, with apricot notes giving an intense, fruity finale. Delicious as an aperitif or during a meal when young, Château La Mascaronne Rosé can also be enjoyed after one or two years of aging.


La Mascaronne
Chateau La Mascaronne Rouge


Château La Mascaronne Rouge 2018 offers delectable aromas of juicy black berries, cherries, cocoa, and vanilla. Silky tannins contribute to this voluptuous sensation, ending in a long, fruity finish.

Tony ParkerPhoto Credit: SÉBASTIEN CLAVEL