Our Tradition of Creating Speck, Salt-Cured Ham, Begins Again Saturday

With grapes grown with love and care and winemaking done with patience and attention to detail, our philosophy at Mount Salem Vineyards has always been to create products that respect the past and adhere to tradition. But as friends of our two-decade-old winery know, that philosophy doesn’t end at wine.

All of our food products are created with the same tenderness, including our speck, which is the word used in Austria and Germany for what Italians call prosciutto di Parma. Every year – which we’ve done for the past 12 years or so – we create our own speck over nine months to serve at our annual LongTable celebration in September.

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This Saturday, we’ll begin the process once again, when we start with a whole, fresh ham, season it by hand, and pack it in several pounds of course, flaky salt. Our visitors, invited via our email list, will be able to observe the first step of this ancient, worldwide tradition on Saturday alongside a glass of wine and seasonal fare prepared by us.

How we make speck

Over several weeks, the salt cures and preserves the meat, which is boxed inside a cardboard wine case that sits on the front porch of our farmhouse. Then, we will remove the speck from the salt and cold-smoke it for eight hours in our smoker which is made from one of our wine barrels. Finally, we’ll wrap it in burlap and hang it in our wine barn to air cure for nine months.

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If you’ve visited our wine barn, you might have noticed a deliciously smoky aroma – or maybe even the speck hanging above your head. It’s an aroma that often brings people to clamor for a seat at LongTable, when we take the speck down from the loft and thin-slice it using a 24” razor-sharp blade from Spain. Even the knife is purposeful – there, preserved hams such as our speck are treated with the utmost reverence.

Finally, at LongTable, after a nine-month-long process, they’ll bite into the salty, smoky, chewy speck that packs a mouthful of flavor in just one bite.

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