Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Mike Shields of Jefferson County, KS just picked up some Mangalitsa feeder pigs. He's got a winery, Tecumseh Creek Vineyards. He's the first and only producers of Mangalitsa pigs in Kansas.
The Mangalitsa pig isn't just the "wine dinner" (special event pig), it is also the winery pig - the pig that winery owners and viticulturalists raise. Whether it is viticulture specialists like Chris Banek, wineries like Dusted Valley or the famous people like Christophe Baron, when wine people want to raise the best-tasting pigs possible, they choose Wooly Pigs brand Mangalitsa pigs.
So far, they all seem to want to raise big fat pigs and make cured products out of them.
I suspect the appeal has to do with the fact that people who make wine use things like genetics, chemistry and time to produce the best wine, the same with pigs and their products.
Mike is amazing. He was recently in Spain, so he went all over, trying to learn as much as he could about the Lampino (the Iberian Black breed the most similar to the Mangalitsa). According to what he learned in Spain and in books, the Lampino was used as foundation stock for some of the leaner, quicker-growing Iberico varieties - but the Lampino itself is one the way out (a bit like the Meishan).
Supposedly, the Lampino is only being bred by one guy, semi-professionally. That's not good: one farm can't normally afford to keep enough boars to preserve enough genetic diversity to maintain a breed. If the herdsman gets sick, has a fire that ruins his records or some other disaster strikes, that can be it.
A more robust model is that of Olmos es Toth. They have enough revenue to support a professional breeding program.
I'm often surprised at how much passion Mangalitsa pigs arouse in people - whether it is people eating them, raising them, processing them, etc. When I got into this, I figured that people would want to eat them, but it never occurred to me that a good chunk of the people casually fattening and processing pigs would be wine industry people.
Posted by Heath Putnam at 5:07 AM