Fine wine and equally fine cars: three Ferrari clients toast their success in style

Wine production has many parallels with car manufacture. If you want to create the very best, if you want to innovate and set new standards, then you need to invest in time as much as anything else. Patience is everything. Raymond Asmar, a Lebanese entrepreneur and business development professional, wine grower and Ferrari client, sums it up perfectly.

Raymond Asmar samples wine from his vineyard <em>Photo: Rudy Shoushany</em>
Raymond Asmar samples wine from his vineyard Photo: Rudy Shoushany

‘Patience is the key to excellence and passion is the engine that strives for perfection,’ says Asmar. ‘With a proud Italian brand like Ferrari you can see the perfection and patience in the details. The same goes for wine production.’ To truly appreciate wine, you need to become involved in its creation, to be a part of the process. Ferrari clients also love that feeling of belonging, of being such an integral factor in the Company’s success.


Tony Celani, born and raised in Detroit, owns and operates Harley Davidson and Chrysler dealerships, and vineyards in Napa Valley. Wine was always in the blood. ‘Growing up in an Italian family, my grandfather and I used to make two barrels of wine for the family every year. He would take me out to his garden and teach me grafting techniques with fig trees and other fruits.


‘We use the very same techniques today in the vineyards. My grandfather kept a bottle of our home-grown wine under his chair to share with us.’

Tom Celani has been collecting wines for 35 years <em>Photo: Tyler Gourley</em>
Tom Celani has been collecting wines for 35 years Photo: Tyler Gourley

Both Celani and Asmar share a love of Formula One; for the former the sport is intrinsically linked with memories of travelling to Monaco for the 1980 Grand Prix. ‘The sounds of the F1 cars coming out of the tunnels gave me a real sense of how powerful these engines were without even seeing them’, he says. For the latter, it informs his appreciation of Prancing Horse road models. ‘I fell in love with the Ferrari California T at first sight. Being an F1 fan, I instantly recognised the engagement with the car.’


Topsy Trading Company was founded in 1984 by Thomas Yip, nicknamed the “Godfather of red wine”. The first importer of Bordeaux in the country, it’s now one of the largest specialist importers in Asia, buying up to 25,000 cases of grand cru from the celebrated French region every year. ‘Working in the wine industry in my mid-20s, I learned to value the finer things in life,’ Yip says. ‘I was very young when I had my first taste of wine, which I didn’t know how to appreciate of course. But when I encountered a Ferrari for the first time, I fell in love immediately.’

Thomas Yip is known in Hong Kong as the &quot;Godfather of red wine&quot; <em>Photo: Callaghan Walsh</em>
Thomas Yip is known in Hong Kong as the "Godfather of red wine" Photo: Callaghan Walsh

Does he agree that car and wine production share similar approaches? Yip smiles. ‘The thing is, to make a great wine, you need the right types of grape and soil, but then you have to factor in the mercy of the weather. And that’s out of everyone’s control.’ He’s absolutely right, of course. It’s enough to test anyone’s patience.