Some cheesemakers are open to the public on a regular basis, some are open seasonally or by appointment and some are just plain too busy making cheese.
You have a couple of options. First, download a copy of this map or view it online. Take one of the suggested tours of open sites (which are open on a regular basis), or plan ahead by checking with the cheesemakers that have occasional on-farm tours (listed as Open from Time to Time on the map).
We have divided the cheesemakers below into three sections: Open, Open From Time to Time and Closed. Check details for how to book a tour. We suggest you contact them at least a month in advance to make sure of openings. All require reservations.
- Cowgirl Creamery
- Epicurean Connection
- Marin French Cheese Company
- Matos Cheese Factory
- Nicasio Valley Cheese Company
- Spring Hill Cheese Company (Petaluma Creamery)
- Vella Cheese Company
Open from Time to Time
(check websites for current tour offerings)
- Achadinha Cheese Company
- Barinaga Ranch Farmstead Sheep Milk Cheese
- Bodega Artisan Cheese
- McClelland Dairy
- Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
- Pug’s Leap
- Ramini Mozzarella
- Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery
- Saint Benoît Yogurt
- Straus Family Creamery
- Tomales Farmstead Creamery
- Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese
- Valley Ford Cheese Company
- Weirauch Farm & Creamery
Closed to the Public
- Andante Cheese
- Bellwether Farms
- Bleating Heart Cheese
- Bohemian Creamery
- Clover Stornetta Farms
- Laura Chenel’s Chèvre
1. Achadinha Cheese Company
Jim and Donna Pacheco’s 600 goats graze year-round on verdant pastures at the Pacheco Family Dairy. The grass is supplemented with alfalfa and brewers’ grain from local breweries. Donna handcrafts all cheeses.
Achadinha has tours of their dairy by appointment and is starting up occasional cheese workshops.
2. Andante Cheese
Soyoung Scanlan—dairy scientist, music lover, and former biochemist—gives musical names to her creamery and cheeses. Her products are designed to reveal the essence of the terroir, or microclimate, in which the milk and cheese are produced.
Andante is not open to the public or by appointment.
3. Barinaga Ranch Farmstead Sheep Milk Cheese
Barinaga Ranch continues the shepherding traditions of Marcia Barinaga’s Basque ancestors in Spain. Sheep graze year-round on more than 100 acres of pasture overlooking Tomales Bay. The rich, raw milk is made into a Basque-style cheese from April to October.
Barinaga Ranch is open for group tours once a month. Contact them via their website for more information.
4. Bellwether Farms
The Callahan family owns and operates Bellwether Farms in the heart of Sonoma County. They began milking their sheep and producing handcrafted cheeses in 1990, making them one of the first to be part of the revival of American artisan cheesemaking.
Bellwether Farms is not open to the public or by appointment.
5. Bleating Heart Cheese
Fat Bottom Girl, a sheep cheese, was first produced by Bleating Heart in 2009. Sonoma Toma, a cow’s milk cheese, followed soon after. In 2010, Bleating Heart partnered with Sonoma County ranchers Rex and Kerry Williams to establish California’s fifth sheep dairy.
Bleating Heart is not open to the public or by appointment.
6. Bodega Artisan Cheese
In keeping with farmstead traditions worldwide, Bodega’s “country” cheeses are p oduced in small batches from one-to-two day old milk, then immediately made into cheese. This seals in the fresh, mild flavor, even in the aged cheeses.
Bodega Artisan Cheese has tours by appointment. Patty Karlin also offers cheesemaking classes.
7. Bohemian Creamery
Lisa Gottreich and Miriam Block decided to break out of their midlife molds and fill new ones with innovative and compelling curds. They make a variety of Italian-style cheeses on their farm in Sebastopol.
Bohemian Creamery is not open to the public or by appointment.
8. Clover Stornetta Farms
A family-owned and operated business, Clover Stornetta Farms works closely with select family farms in Sonoma, Marin, and Mendocino counties. It processes and distributes their high-quality dairy products under the Clover Stornetta and Clover Organic Farms brands.
Clover Stornetta is not open to the public or by appointment.
9. Cowgirl Creamery
80 Fourth Street
Point Reyes Station
In 1997, Sue Conley and Peg Smith built a small creamery in downtown Point Reyes Station and began making handcrafted cheese with local organic milk. They now produce three fresh and six aged cheeses and have a second creamery in Petaluma.
Cowgirl Creamery’s Point Reyes and San Francisco locations are open to the public. Their Point Reyes location has tours on Fridays at 11:30 (they sell-out a month in advance), their Petaluma location is only open for tours to the public by reservation from April through September. Tours in Petaluma are usually held on Wednesdays.
10. Epicurean Connection
122 West Napa Street
Sonoma, CA. 95476
Sheana Davis, cheesemaker and proprietor of the Epicurean Connection, featuring artisan and farmstead cheeses, plus regionally and sustainably produced products. After 20 years of enthusiastic support for local cheesemakers, she introduced her own award winning artisan cheeses Delice de la Vallee & Creme de Fromage.
Epicurean Connection is open to the public. Sheana Davis also gives cheesemaking classes.
11. Laura Chenel’s Chèvre
Laura Chenel pioneered American goat cheesemaking. From small batches made on her Sebastopol farm in the 1970s to the new Sonoma creamery owned by French artisan cheese producer Rians Group, the brand continues to bring increased appreciation of goat cheese to the U.S.
Laura Chenel is not open to the public.
12. Marin French Cheese Company
7500 Red Hill Road
The oldest continuously operating cheese factory in America, Marin French has specialized in handmade Brie and Camembert since 1865. In 2005, it was the first American producer to best France and other European countries in international competitions.
Marin French is open to the public seven days a week from 8:30-5:00. Tours of their cheesemaking are temporarily suspended but should start up very soon. Feel free to check with them on the current status.
Joe and Mary Matos grew up in the Portuguese Azores on the lush volcanic island of Sao Jorge, noted for its delicious cheeses. They relocated to Santa Rosa in the 1970s, carrying the recipe for their native cheese with them.
The Matos Cheese Factory is open to the public.
14. McClelland Dairy
This third-generation family dairy was founded by Robert McClelland, an Irish immigrant. It’s now operated by his son George, George’s wife Dora, and their daughter Jana. They specialize in European Style Organic Artisan Butter with plans for other products in the future.
The McClelland dairy has periodic tours on weekends during warm months and also by appointment. Visitors are able to watch a cow being milked and pet a calf in the nursery.
15. Nicasio Valley Cheese Company
5300 Nicasio Valley Road
The Lafranchi family enjoyed the traditional cheeses of their Swiss homeland and dreamed of making their own. Their organic dairy was the perfect resource to enable them to pay homage to their heritage. They made their first cheese in 2010 with Swiss mentor Maurizio Lorenzetti.
The Nicasio Valley Cheese Company is open to the public 7 days a week from 10am-5pm. View their cheesemaking equipment through a large picture window and maybe even meet someone from the family behind the cheese counter.
The Giacomini family makes classic Point Reyes Original Blue and semi-hard Point Reyes Toma with milk from their own cows—processed within hours of milking. They offer hands-on and demo-style cooking classes at The Fork Culinary Center on their ranch.
Point Reyes Farmstead has periodic tours and classes at their dairy and on-farm cheesemaking facility. They also host events and meetings. Check www.theforkatpointreyes.com for their schedule and more information.
After running their goat dairy, White Whale Farm, for several years, Anna and Dan Conner were eager to enter the cheese world. They took over Pug’s Leap in 2010, continuing the high-quality cheesemaking tradition of the previous owners.
Pug’s Leap gives tours of their farm by appointment.
18. Ramini Mozzarella
Inspired by Italian mozzarella di bufala, Craig Ramini will use 100% water buffalo milk to produce a handcrafted cheese for his new company which is now in start-up mode. Ramini Mozzarella is scheduled to be available in 2012.
Periodic tours are available at Ramini. Check their website and/or email them for more information.
19. Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery
Located among picturesque redwoods, family-owned and operated Redwood Hill Farm has produced award-winning goat milk cheese since 1978. Their Certified Humane Raised & Handled herd benefits from a diversified breeding program, and their cheese, yogurt, and kefir are minimally processed.
Redwood Hill holds three open tours at their dairy each year. Check their website for the schedule.
20. Saint Benoît Creamery
Saint Benoît is a small, family-owned business handcrafting organic, cream-top, French-style yogurt from the milk of Jersey cows. All products are made in small batches using locally sourced fruits and honey. They’re sold in distinctive reusable crocks and jars.
Saint Benoit has tours by appointment.
21. Spring Hill Cheese Company (Petaluma Creamery)
711 Western Avenue
Retail Shop: 707-762-9038
Rich, organic 100% Jersey milk is the secret of Larry Peter’s handcrafted gourmet cheeses. Spring Hill Jersey cheeses are made on his farm just west of Petaluma.
The Spring Hill Cheese (also called Petaluma Creamery) shop is open to the public seven days a week. Along with selling their cheese, they also have sandwiches, pizza, ice cream and espresso coffee drinks. They have tours of their cheesemaking facility all year by appointment and their dairy can periodically be toured also by appointment.
22. Straus Family Creamery
A family-owned organic creamery, Straus produces milk, ice cream, yogurt, butter, frozen yogurt, and soft-serve ice cream with cows’ milk sourced from its own dairy in the hills above Tomales Bay and from three other local family farms.
Tours of the dairy are arranged through the Marin Agricultural Land Trust only which holds three or four tours per year Spring through Fall. Check www.malt.org for the tour schedule.
23. Tomales Farmstead Creamery
David Jablons and Tamara Hicks purchased Toluma Farm in 2003, restored the land, and protected it with an agricultural conservation easement. They began milking 200 goats in 2007, and plan to start producing goat and mixed-milk cheeses in 2012.
Toluma Farms who makes cheese under the Tomales Farmstead Creamery label, has regularly scheduled farm tours from Spring through Fall. Check their website for details.
Dairyman Don DeBernardi’s desire to make Swiss cheese like the type made by his relatives in Switzerland led him to transition from multi-generational dairy farming to producing a goat milk cheese aged on site at the DeBernardi Dairy.
Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese occasionally hosts tours on their dairy. Give them a call for more information.
25. Valley Ford Cheese Company
Five generations of the Bianchi/Grossi family have raised dairy cows on this prime farmland in Sonoma County. Karen Bianchi Moreda and her son Joe now make Swiss-Italian-style cheese from the milk of their Certified Humane Raised & Handled Jersey herd.
Valley Ford Cheese dairy and cheesemaking is open for tours by appointment only.
26. Vella Cheese Company
315 2nd Street East
The Vella family has made cheese in a stonewalled building on the historic Sonoma square since the company’s founding in 1931 by Gaetano Vella. The cultures, the care, and the personal hands-on techniques are the same as they were then.
The Vella Cheese Company is open to the public Monday- Saturday from 9:30am – 6:00pm. Taste samples of any of their cheeses in the shop located in front of their creamery. They do not have a viewing room or tours.
27. Weirauch Farm & Creamery
Joel and Carleen Weirauch raise dairy sheep for seasonal production of raw aged cheese. They also produce organic cow cheese from local Jersey milk. They’ve made creative re-use of portable trailers for milking and cheesemaking. Their operation is Animal Welfare Approved.
The Weirauch Farm & Creamery are open to the public by appointment only. Check their website for details.