by: Bryant “Pops” Helton, Wine Director The String Bean
It all started fifteen months ago while minding my weekly wine inventory, I received yet another call that day…likely a customer searching for a difficult-to-locate bottle of wine. When I heard the voice, “This is Jim Nantz, do you have a few minutes to chat?” I thought…who is “pulling my leg” with this prank call? But that voice on the other end of the phone resonated in a deep, almost spiritual fashion – stirring something within much more than a memory.
I’d heard this voice so many times while watching the Masters, afternoon NFL games, and NCAA “March Madness”. I gulped, captive of the gravity of the moment and quickly replied, “Of course I have a few minutes to chat!” Jim expressed his appreciation for The String Bean’s support of The Calling, a brand of wine he co-founded and co-owns which has ascended rapidly since its inception in 2011, accumulating numerous awards and high ratings for various varietals/wines over recent years.
Jim mentioned that he’d been to The String Bean a few weeks for a “Sunday meal” during a family visit to the area, yet unaware that our restaurant is closed on Sundays. After concluding our conversation, I thought to myself: if he would come to The String Bean once – maybe he will come again. I envisioned something much greater than Jim just having a great meal and signing a few autographs. How memorable would it be for both for our wine patrons and Jim Nantz to celebrate the ascendancy of The Calling Wines via a wine tasting near his hometown of Charlotte, NC!
Thanks to the help of Alli Nantz Buhler and The String Bean owner, Chad Hutcheson, this “vision” became reality when Jim Nantz visited The String Bean Friday, May 3rd, 2019 for The Calling Wine Tasting.
So many of us were mesmerized and awestruck – like kids on Christmas morning – as we listened to Jim speak and hung on his every word – on various topics from golf and Tiger Woods, to the NFL, to Final Fours, to the philosophy of life, to going through the details of the lineup of The Calling wines, to answering many impromptu questions with such insight, vividness, color and yes, humor.
What an experience it was to re-live many moments that so capture the sports fans’ imaginations and hearts via the thoughts and words of the greatest “sports commentator of our time.” The wines were great, the hors d’oeuvres nicely complementary, and Jim signed so many bottles for our guests – I would’ve believed he had a “body-double” helping! The single-bottle, “The Calling” commemorative wooden wine boxes certainly added another touch of class to close the event – the perfect container for a “signed gift-bottle” as many customers took advantage of that opportunity. To sum it up – one phrase comes to mind: “once in a lifetime experience.” Indeed, it was…