From Farm to Butcher

When you encounter the exquisite flavor of a beautiful, hand crafted meat; you must savor it, celebrate it, and spread word of the find. We feel this way every time we eat a thin-as-tissue piece of prosciutto or juicy, intensely flavored pork loin from Fatted Calf Charcuterie.

Our team has come to regard Fatted Calf Charcuterie as a holy place for meat.  No crepinette, no loma, nor any porchetta can compare to the heart-stopping good products created by artisans Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller. Taylor and Toponia focus on charcuterie and butchery, dedicating themselves to the details that produce incredibly tasty food.

Toponia and Taylor started Fatted Calf in 2003 with just $6,000 in a shared commercial kitchen in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. The first company in the area to focus entirely on handmade artisanal salumi, they started out selling directly to customers at the Saturday Farmers Market in Berkeley. Word of mouth caught on, and Fatted Calf started to grow.

Of the many practices that make Fatted Calf unique, perhaps the most significant are the relationships they build with farmers. They focus solely on partnering with small producers who practice sustainable agriculture and husbandry by not using hormones or antibiotics, raising animals on pasture, and in many cases growing their own feed.  They make extra effort to highlight the work of small farmers with deep passion and high standards.  Toponia and Taylor believe that feeding people quality food that is better for them, the environment, and small businesses, that they can change the course of the American food system.

Like many of our neighbors that curate, create and collaborate in the Napa Valley, they too share a love of craft and a vision of quality we all appreciate. When the time came to slaughter our ten, lovingly raised Berkshire hogs, we asked Toponia and Taylor to share their expertise and lend us a hand in processing our meat into charcuterie. We raise a glass to the Fatted Calf every time we share a charcuterie board with our friends and family. We also can’t get enough of their Porchetta recipe and make it all the time (paired with Pinot Noir).

If you haven’t found yourself at a Fatted Calf, or worse, if you have never tried Fatted Calf products, we recommend you immediately get yourself to one of their two locations, grab a few Layer Cake wines on the way home and get to enjoying life.

Other stories and recipes from our journeys can be found in the One True Vine Journal 002. You can purchase a copy here:

Mendoza: The Greatest Place on Earth to Make Malbec

If you ask Winemaker Jayson Woodbridge why he makes wine in Mendoza he’d say, “Because it’s the greatest place on earth to make Malbec…and because of the Parrilla.”

There are geographic advantages to growing grapes in Mendoza. Nestled up against the Andes, the vineyards are exposed to bright mountain sunshine and cool air, creating exceptional conditions for growing Malbec. During the patient wait for those grapes to ripen to perfection and later when the fermentations are bubbling away, the Region of Mendoza gives in other ways, like meat cooked long and slow over a carefully tended bed of coals.

La Parrilla…there is a reverence to the word, with a slight pause leading up to saying it, and for good reason. Those who have savored the meat prepared “a la Parrilla” will understand. The Gauchos, Argentine cowboys who are said to have created the Parilla while traversing the windswept plains of Patagonia, clearly knew what they were doing. Placing a metal grate over a bed of hot wood coals sounds simple, but the process is anything but. Enjoying a bottle of our Argentinian Malbec or Sea of Stones Red Blend makes the process a little easier.

If delicious meat cooked to perfection didn’t fill the time while waiting on those Malbec grapes, the Andes offers a beautiful and majestic playground. A rough four-wheel drive trip at altitude, surrounded by steep mountains and rocky terrain, will work up anyone’s appetite for an impromptu picnic in the mountains.

Mendoza is a magical place, offering a feast for the senses. And providing the soil for growing a wine that delivers a bit of that magic in every sip. And you can bring Mendoza to you by trying our recipe, Pork Ribs a la Parilla.




Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Tara Hardesty

Italian Inspiration

We don’t go to Rome for the past (the only thing you’re going to hear from us regarding ancient Roman ruins is that they are excellent at providing shade for drinking wine). We go to Rome to get charged for the future. To get psyched to make more wine.

The only ancient tradition we adhere to is that of celebration. And we do this by imbibing the modern energy of a city that’s uniquely “Roman.” Yes, this seems absurdly obvious, but traveling to Italy as often as we do, we have come to realize that Rome is a place unlike any other.

Modern-day Romans do not live in the past. They understand as well as anyone that the past informs the present. And without all the bacchanalia and conquests, they retain the regal, proud air of their ancestors, along with many of the distinct physical characteristics.

Yes, while we do enjoy our late Roman evenings around a bottle or two, we make wine in Puglia, the picturesque heel of Italy’s geographic boot. We spend our days grounded in the art of Italian winemaking, but there’s no place like Rome for partaking in the spirit of reinvention and rejuvenation. Where else can you literally watch new civilization being built atop old? Walk streets that emperors strode?

It’s simply impossible not to be inspired to attempt great things while sitting at one of the cafes bordering the 2000-year old Pantheon, which to this day is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. Or by traversing the fabled Spanish Steps. Or while taking in some of the world’s most fantastic art. Or by enjoying a simple plate of fresh, handmade seafood pasta.

One of our favorite non-winemaking activities is to stroll through the narrow back streets to discover tiny plazas where tourists rarely venture. We’ve stumbled into some of our favorite eating establishments this way. We eat pizza at 2:30 am. We drink wine with our feet in the Trevi Fountain at 3:00 am. We try to get the garishly garbed Swiss Guard at the Vatican to smile and let us see into the secret Papal library vaults.

So, as we travel the world making wine to share with you, we celebrate. We remind ourselves that work without play is boring (and makes for even more boring wine). We also hope to inspire you to to get up, get out and see the world. And, if you can’t get out and see it, at least taste it (like with a bottle of Layer Cake Primitivo). We promise to keep brining the world (as we see it) to you and your glass.

Other stories and recipes from our journeys can be found in the One True Vine Journal 001. You can purchase a copy here: