When NBA legend Tony Parker decided to embark on the next chapter in his career, he looked back to one of his oldest rather than discovering a new passion.
“I’ve always loved wine and champagne and growing up in France I was exposed to this world at a very young age,” he says.
Parker was just 19 when he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, but says he’s been involved in his personal exploration of wine for several years. Luckily for him, coach Gregg Popovich proved to be the perfect mentor for the teenager, not only for his efforts on the pitch but also for his interest in the basement.
“Pop loved wine, he always read all the magazines and showed me stuff on every road trip,” says Parker. “It was nice to have a coach who enjoyed and understood, and he knew I was a big fan.”
With his playing days behind him, Parker, 40, realized he was ready to turn a hobby into a business and a way of life. To do this, he turned to another mentor, Michel Reybier, who has over four decades of experience in the hospitality industry.
“I knew I wanted to invest in this space, and there’s nothing like working with someone who is already very successful,” says Parker. “[Reybier]is legitimate and I can learn a lot from him, not just on wine and champagne but in business in general.”
When the opportunity arose, Parker committed to becoming a partner in Château La Mascaronne, a Provencal winery that Reybier bought in 2020, along with Reybiers Champagne Jeeper, a 1949 winery that Reybier acquired and revitalized in 2013.
While the four-time NBA champion recognizes that his celebrity status lends a certain cachet to brands, he’s also aware that it can cause others to view the company with a skeptical eye, and he’s willing to tell the doubters the opposite prove. Fundamental to this is respect for the history of two wine regions, Champagne and Provence.
“The first thing that comes to mind is try to do something that will last and keep that history and tradition going,” says Parker. “People want to make sure you respect that.”
Parker spoke up penta about some of his favorite things from around the world.
The perfect meal at home is… my family, a glass of wine, a nice little appetizer, like a salad, and then any kind of fish. Sure, cheese, you gotta make cheese. And then something with chocolate for dessert.
A childhood memory I cherish is… just being with my parents and following them everywhere when my dad was playing basketball. I’ve always loved this picture that’s really famous in the media where I’m maybe 3 years old trying to dribble and the ball is bigger than me.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is… I’ve read more articles over the last year, I just love keeping up to date with the media and the business world, and I love keeping up to date with the latest news in all areas that I’m involved in.
An artist whose work I admire is… [designer and singer]
Benjamin Paulin, because I’m renovating my house in France right now, with all the sofas, tables and furniture, so I’m at it right now. I met him recently and his father Pierre Paulin was a genius and he keeps the tradition going and he creates some great works of art.
A passion of mine that few people know about is… I love taking care of mine [Tony Parker Adéquat] Academy (which focuses on vocational training for youth) and Education. I’m the educational ambassador for the Olympics and have worked hard to create platforms and opportunities for the children. Education is really important to me.
As travel opens up more freely, the first thing I do is go… When I go on vacation, the Maldives. Cheval Blanc, Maldives.
What wakes me up in the morning is… just life itself. I feel very blessed and try to enjoy every moment and not take anything for granted – I enjoy spending time with my family and my two children.
The one thing in my kitchen or fridge that I can’t live without is… goat cheese! Any goat cheese, I always have goat cheese in the fridge.
If I could have a drink with anyone anywhere it would be…
Michael Jordan. He makes me drink his tequila. And I’ll try to get him to drink my wine.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.