As a Bay Area resident, there’s nothing like taking a drive out to the coast. As you head out towards Point Reyes from Petaluma or Marin, slip down a side road to find the only farmstead, organic cow cheesemaker in California, located in the one-block town of Nicasio, population 96.

There you’ll see St. Mary’s, a sweet church built in 1871, Rancho Nicasio, a restaurant with live music (they get some pretty hot bands) and Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, a tiny creamery & retail shop filled with yummy cheese and other goodies.

The Lafranchi family, originally from Maggia, Switzerland, dairy farmers in the U.S. for 3 generations, have the ONLY farmstead, certified-organic cow dairy making cheese in California.

Farmstead means that the cheese is made on the farm with milk from the farmer’s own herd (which is right down the road from the shop).

At their creamery, you can watch them make cheese through the floor to ceiling window (best during the week), sample each and every one of their cheese, and purchase cheese and other picnic items. Tomino and Locano are their latest creations. They’re gooey and absolutely fine. I’m especially in love with the Tomino, a washed-rind (it has a lot of flavor!) and their fresh Foggy Morning. But you’ll find your own favorite, of course.

The shop is open 7 days a week, 10-5.  Nicasio Valley Cheese Company is on the Marin County Cheese Trail, just a short jaunt off the Point Reyes Petaluma Road or, coming from the other side:  Sir Francis Drake or Lucas Valley Road.