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Image: Photos from Spring/Summer 2012 SFSU Mag

A Very Good Year

Photo of Layla Fanucci. Photo by Chick Harrity.Wine and art: When Rob and Layla took Guido and his wife Matilda out to dinner, Guido brought his own wine in a mason jar, "hidden in his jacket," Rob recalls with a laugh. "No corkage fee."
Layla taught music for 25 years before a trip to an art supply store changed her trajectory. Her cityscapes grace the pages of a book just out from the Walter Wickiser Gallery. Photo by Chick Harrity.


Joel Peterson, who founded Sonoma's highly successful Ravenswood Winery, which produces about 800,000 cases of a year, is known as the "godfather of Zinfandel." He praises Charter Oak's wines. The process that Fanucci uses, he says, "harkens back to the core winemaking tradition that developed through trial and error over time and most often produced the most interesting, soulful wines." He finds those qualities in Fanucci's Zinfandels. "They clearly come from the heart, which is exactly what you want wine to do."

Layla's paintings are a labor of love, too. She quit teaching music in 2000 to pursue her other passion. Initially inspired by Matisse and Picasso, she developed a fluid, dynamic style of her own, creating dense, abstracted cityscapes with four to five layers of color and black-lined imagery. Bits of Manhattan skyline, for example, appear in the brimming surface of "Barcelona."

Photo of artwork by Layla Fanucci. Gabriella Hasbun.Photo by Gabriela Hasbun.

"All the layers bleed through, and it creates that luscious canvas. It gives you depth and texture," says Layla, who has exhibited at Morocco's Le Musée de Marrakech and New York's Walter Wickiser Gallery, which recently published a book of her work, "City of Dreams Unabridged, 1999-2011."

The paintings, based on photographs and her experience of Florence, Paris and other places, portray "my version of a city," she says, gazing at a huge canvas titled "City of the World, Opus 5."

"When I go to a city, this is what I feel. I feel a little bit claustrophobic, but I love the excitement and energy," adds the artist, a native San Franciscan who grew up on the Peninsula and thrived on the urban energy at SF State.

Photo of an art collection by Layla Fanucci

"I loved the diversity there, people from different cultures and backgrounds. It gave me a different perspective on life and the world. That was my foundation."

For the Fanuccis, the arduous process of creating art and wine is intertwined, a joyous family endeavor that produces what Rob calls food for the soul. Making wine, he says, "is like painting. You make it with your own hands. There's a special enjoyment when you drink it." Like Layla's art, "it's a celebration of life."

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