Californian Wine to Watch: The Calling

Two friends find what it takes to start a Californian wine label: passion and a calling
The Calling

Jim Nantz and Peter Deutsch, makers of The Calling wine.

Jim Nantz has called Super Bowls, Masters Tournaments and a slew of sporting events for CBS Sports for decades. Now, along with longtime friend and CEO of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Peter Deutsch, he’s found his calling. Together this summer, the pair launched a Sonoma-based high-end line of wine called The Calling.

The keyhole label is expressly designed to encourage consumers to unlock their own calling in life, just as these guys did. This is the first time either of the two men have taken on winemaking.

The Calling wines, two chardonnays, a cabernet sauvignon and a Bordeaux-style blend, are sourced from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley and the Alexander Valley. They range in price from $30 to $60 per bottle.

Below is a complete interview with Peter Deutsch.

What inspired the name The Calling?

The Calling's name is about following your passion in life to excel in something you enjoy. Our slogan is "Unlock Your Calling." Jim and I are both passionate about wine but neither of us until now have been directly involved in the process of making our own wine. It is the first time Jim has ventured into winemaking, and it is the first time the Deutsch name is appearing on a wine label. Both of us were very much involved in the process from selecting grapes to designing the label. Having both found our calling in life prior to our chance meeting, we both saw this opportunity as a new calling.

What inspired the types of wines you chose to produce?

I had a concept — high quality, great value, a true American iconic brand. We wanted to produce a premium wine from California made from grapes selected from the best vineyards. The Calling is a wine we will enjoy drinking and we will enjoy sharing with friends and colleagues.

What's your philosophy of winemaking?

Winemaking blends four things: quality ingredients, the winemaker's skill, art, and a blessing from Mother Nature.

First, the grapes: For The Calling chardonnay we selected grapes from the highly regarded Dutton Ranch Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. The wines are Dutton Ranch ($30) and Jewell Vineyard ($40), each aged 12 months. Our reds are from vineyards in the Alexander Valley: a 2009 “Rio Lago” cabernet sauvignon aged 24 months ($35) and 2009 Alexander Valley "Our Tribute" Bordeaux-style blend, aged 30 months. ($60).

Second, the winemaker's skill. Jim and I worked with my good friend Marco DiGiulio, a highly regarded winemaker in California to craft the wines, testing, tasting and selecting what we wanted. We were both very much involved throughout the entire process.

Third, a name and label that draws you in. The label for The Calling is a brass keyhole to signify our message "Unlock Your Calling." This message is important: Everyone has something they love or may dream of doing, but few act upon it.

And finally, but not lastly, Mother Nature to create the perfect balance of temperature and moisture to nurture the vines.

Have you two discussed what's more difficult — being a CEO or making wine or in Jim's case, is winemaking more challenging than sport’s commentary?

You'll have to ask Jim about sports. For me as CEO of a leading family-owned wine marketing company that represents many outstanding labels, putting the Deutsch name on a new wine is a big responsibility. We have to prove ourselves to make a great wine not just to market it.

Any similarities between each of your other professions?

I think both of our professions require having a great eye for detail, knowledge of the industry, a drive for excellence and the skills to navigate the course and build relationships.

If you're not drinking your own wine, what are you drinking?

I love to drink great Bordeaux.

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