Welcome to Encina Farms
The 1,200 acre ranch our pigs roam is located in the Coyote Valley of Middletown, California, with over 600 acres of oak forests. Encina means Oak Tree in Spanish. The oak, which produces acorns or “bellotas” in Spanish, is essential to the diet of the very finest Iberico pork you’ll ever taste. That’s why we chose to raise our pigs on acreage in California, on land that’s blanketed by oak trees. With our sole focus on this legendary breed—and our commitment to the highest quality meat and environmentally friendly farming—we can now offer California-raised Iberico pork to butchers, fine meat distributors, restaurants, chefs, and home cooks who appreciate its special attributes.
600 Acres of Oak Forest
Authentic Iberico pork like ours is raised free range and fed on acorns in the later part of its life to ensure the fat is of great quality and has healthy qualities (acorns contain 70% oleic acid, similar to olives).
This means the pork has the same healthy fat as olive oil. Iberico that is not acorn-fed has a different taste and fat profile.
“We believe in free range and humane farming, and use no antibiotics or hormones. At about 10 months of age, each pig is released in the oak woodlands, where it has plenty of land to explore, eating grasses, herbs, nuts, mushrooms, etc. and finishing on acorns. During the feeding season, each pig can consume acorns from as many as 40 oak trees and walk as much as 10 miles a day. Raising Iberico pigs preserves our California oak woodlands, too, and aims to rejuvenate the land.”
- Alberto Soilis & Helmut Drews
Meet the Team Behind Encina Farms
Born and raised in Colombia, with Spanish and German ancestry, Helmut Drews cherishes his memory of the first Iberico ham he tasted as a child. He grew up going to the dairy farms of his grandfather, one of the first to bring the Holstein breed to Colombia. With his love for tasty food and an entrepreneur at heart, Helmut sold alfajores in school and high quality pets—discus fish—before the age of 10. Though he spent the first 10 years of his career in strategy consulting and technology, the pull towards getting back to the land, raising animals, and following his grandfather’s pioneering footsteps inspired him to start Encina Farms. He’s very excited to learn how to apply regenerative farming practices and leave the land in a better state than when it began.
Originally from Spain, Alberto Solis developed his love for food and respect for high quality ingredients from his summers spent in Andalucia, a region known for Iberico. His family owned olive groves and mills, and he was always attracted to agriculture. When Alberto came to the U.S., he followed his passion into the specialty food business, introducing many Spanish products—olive oil, cheeses, vinegars, tuna, and jamon Iberico—into the U.S. market. Along the way, he even owned a restaurant in San Francisco. Over his 30-year career, Alberto became more interested in local foods, and he co-founded the successful KitchenTown in Silicon Valley to help small food producers scale their market. His knowledge of Iberico, experience with artisanal foods, and passion for quality have inspired him to create and grow Encina Farms.
What Makes the Iberico Breed Special?
Known around the world for its rich quality flavor and healthy fat profile, Iberico pork has until recently only been raised and been made available in its native Spain. It’s widely recognized in its finest cured form as Jamon Iberico de bellota. But now, Encina Farms is raising the breed here in California, the first grower to do so exclusively. Our Iberico pigs spend their lives outdoors. We are dedicated to growing our Iberico pigs with the upmost quality standards, leveraging new regenerative practices with no hormones or antibiotics, while also using traditional Spanish practices and methods finishing the Iberico on a diet of acorns to ensure its flavor and nutritional profile. Helmut and Alberto are thrilled to be sharing their dream of Encina Farms with you and pioneering the Iberico industry here in California.