Hidden Cheesemakers

June 18, 2016 | cheesetrail

I’m a sucker for visiting farms and cheesemakers. So, I jumped at a full day Central Coast cheese tour with
FARMstead ED.

First stop was Central Coast Creamery in Paso Robles, where Reggie Jones, owner and cheesemaker, took us for a tour.  He led us through his immaculately laid out new creamery and we sampled his full line of cheeses made with goat, sheep and cow’s milk. His Holey Cow is the only Swiss cheese made in California. It doesn’t taste like one of those rubbery swiss cheeses I’ve disliked my whole life.  It’s amazing and creamy! He told us the cows that provide this milk eat a truckload of carrots each day, which is why the cheese is so yellow.Central Coast Aging Room

Dog at StepladderOnce we left, the bus turned off coastal Highway 1, onto a road no one would take unless they had a reason. The bus driver drove at a pace reserved for turtles, up small hills (more like bumps) and around corners, along a five-mile road. We could see nothing ahead, until we came to the opening that is Stepladder Creamery.  If I lived there, I’d probably be too lazy to ever leave.

Jack Rudolf, the grandson of the owner, greeted us amidst a charming cluster of vintage barns. The compound was both quiet and filled with projects. In exchange for managing the ranch, Jack raises his goats and makes cheese in a creamery he’s built inside the historic barn. You can’t even tell from the outside that it even exists.  The farm also has beehives, producing, honestly the best honey I’ve eaten in a long time, plus passion fruit and avocados.  Everyone was allowed to play with the kids (baby goats). Then lunch made by a local caterer was served.

Like many goat and sheep farms, they have their guardian dog, who makes his home with the animals.

Our final stop was Rinconada Dairy where we watched the goats being milked, gazed at huge sheep and sampled cheese and wine from Seven Oxen. Sadly, I’ve recently heard that they’ve stopped making cheese since our visit. But as far as I know, they’ll continue to milk their goats for other cheesemakers.

It was a great day. Check Central Coast Creamery and Stepladder Creamery profiles for tour options.  And FarmsteadEd also provides all sorts of tours. It was a fun day!