Spotlight on Yasmina Asseily

The owner of Château Biac in Bordeaux talks about wine, health and how her curious nature led her on a career path she never imagined.

Yasmina Asseily redefines what it is to be a multitasker.

She earned degrees in English and French Law from King’s College London and the Sorbonne in Paris, respectively. Asseily worked for seven years in the private banking and wealth management industry, dividing her time between New York City, Beirut and Paris. Other passions took root, and in 2009, she became a nutritional therapist in London.

By 2013, Asseily had made another big career move, as she began to work full-time on her family’s Bordeaux winery. Today, she manages Château Biac’s sales and export, as involved in the business as she is in the vineyard.

She has introduced Château Biac to the U.S., Germany and Holland, and has helped grow markets like Switzerland, the U.K, Lebanon and China. A frequent globetrotter, she’s still a tireless proponent of a healthy lifestyle, balancing wine and nutrition.

How did you get started in the wine business?

We spent many summers in Bordeaux when I was in a teenager, and I often accompanied my parents when they were touring the area visiting wineries buying cases, or big-sized bottles for eventual big family celebrations. However, I never thought I would be lucky enough to end up in this business. I worked in finance for nearly nine years before redirecting my career to become a nutritional therapist. My parents bought Biac in 2006 and had to restructure the entire vineyard, as well as redo the winery, which took quite some time. By the time I had finished my nutrition studies in the fall of 2011 in London, my parents had just put the Biac wines back on the market with two vintages; the 2008 and 2009.

Whilst setting up my nutrition practice, I started to place the wines in my spare time in restaurants in London and helped during tasting events. I found that I increasingly enjoyed meeting people to talk about Biac and our wines. As a result, I ended up spending more and more time on the tasting circuit and less time practicing nutrition. The shift to this new career therefore came rather naturally. I now combine the two by giving sommeliers nutritional advice whilst introducing our wines.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

The diversity of people I deal with . . . without a doubt. I absolutely love the fact that I get to meet so many fascinating people from so many different walks of life who are all passionate about the same thing . . . sharing food and wine! Nothing beats having these new friends around a table and sharing a great meal, wine and unforgettable stories.

How would you characterize or personify your wine in Bordeaux?

To me, our Secret de Château Biac [sweet wine] is just that . . . a secret in a bottle. It is seduction, charm and sunshine, and [it] embodies the surprise that people often express when they first walk through the gates of Biac and discover the beautiful view down the hill overlooking the bend of the Garonne river . . . after a few glasses, some people claim they can even see the Pyrenees 350 kilometers away on the horizon!

For our red wines, I often use my mother’s analogy to music: Our Château Biac is like a symphony, our B de Biac is the chamber music and Felix is the feel-good song you sing under the shower every day.

You’re trained as a nutritional therapist. How can or does wine fit into a healthy lifestyle, in your opinion?

Drinking a glass of well-made wine a day, in my opinion, is not bad, assuming one is in good health, of course.. I actually recently read a fun study which said that drinking wine stimulates more areas of the brain than a math problem. It involves smell, taste, intellect and so much more . . . and most importantly, it usually brings pleasure which, in my opinion, should not be underestimated in a healthy lifestyle.

Having the most perfect diet is great, but if that comes at the cost of making oneself miserable because you deny yourself some pleasures of life, then the “healthy” effect is limited. There is something to be said about the [concept of] mind, body and soul.

Do you think your gender has impacted or affected your career in the wine industry? How?

I have often been told that women are great multitaskers. That’s definitely something I can relate to . . . cooking up a meal for friends while deciding which wines to pair it with, all the while discussing pricing strategy with my father (my big boss), and negotiating which glasses to place on the table with my mother (my other boss) are very much a part of my daily life at the office. No doubt there are many more men in this industry than women, but this has only generated curiosity, if anything, as to how I came to be in the wine business.

Published on April 21, 2017
Topics: Interview
About the Author
Susan Kostrzewa
Executive Editor

Reviews wines from Greece and Cyprus.

Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa joined Wine Enthusiast in 2006, when she moved from Sonoma, California, to Manhattan. Kostrzewa has written and edited wine, food and travel stories for the past 14 years, and oversees all editorial direction of Wine Enthusiast Magazine and WineMag.com, in addition to the tasting programs. Kostrzewa co-edited the Wine Enthusiast Wine & Food Pairings book and has co-authored numerous books on wine and travel in her career. Email: skostrze@wineenthusiast.net



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