Orland Farmstead Creamery

Paul Schmidt of Orland Farmstead Creamery, stokes the fire.

Paul Schmidt, a shy man of few words, heaves another log into the wood burning oven. It turns out that the water for washing the barn and pasteurization of milk is heated this way. No propane used here. It’s not a throw-back, as much as ingenuity.

I made a trip to visit three cheesemakers in the North Sacramento Valley, looking forward to a spring road trip. I found a thriving community of small dairies, including the industrious Orland Farmstead Creamery.

Paul Schmidt is a third generation dairyman and he has just 25-30 milking Holsteins. And one bull. And that bull, large as it is, will follow Paul wherever he goes.

Valerie Miller, who started out by teaching cheesemaking, is the cheesemaker and she also lives on the farm.

Valerie Miller and Paul Schmidt of Orland Farmstead Creamery

Valerie makes several fresh cheeses including Fromage Blanc, Feta, Queso Fresco, fresh Mozzarella packed in brine, and Ricotta, a cheese that lands somewhere between cottage cheese and ricotta. All cheeses are farmstead. Meaning the cheese is made from the milk of their own farm.

From April-September, tours are held on the 4th Saturday of the month. If you’re looking to see how a small farm works, this is the place to visit. Book a tour now.

Step Out to Stepladder

I wind around a narrow, forested road, about six miles off Highway 1 near Cambria on the Central Coast, thinking I’ve gone too far, until the sky opens and – voila – there is the hidden gem of Stepladder Creamery.

The farm, founded in 1871, with a central open field surround by barns and frolicking LaMancha goats, is the run by third generation farmer, Jack Rudolph, and his wife Michelle. They make cheese in their 100+ year-old barn. The farm is magical.

Jack & Michelle make goat cheese Spring through Fall in their tiny creamery tucked away away in the barn’s corner. Cow milk cheeses are made in the winter. This is in addition to the avocados, cherimoyas and passionfruit, also grown on site. There are also pigs and cattle. Wow.

Paso Vino, soaked in Syrah, ages on the rack.

The best part is, you can visit. Seasonal farm and creamery tours can be booked online. Spring tours allow you to play with the tiny kids (baby goats). And then they serve you cheese.

Right now, Stepladder’s Cabrillo, a Spanish-style semi-firm cheese made with a combination of cow and goat milk, is on promotion at Whole Foods Market in Northern California region. Whole Foods suggests pairing Cabrillo with the slow-roasted La Saison Herbs De Provence Almonds. However you decide pair it…you’ll enjoy.

6 Reasons to Visit A Farm

pennyroyal

Especially if you love cows, goats & sheep!

Spring is one of the best times to visit a cheesemaker’s farm. You’ll have sunny days and plenty of time to interact with all the hardworking girls who make cheese possible!

On a tour you might see the loafing barns, the milking parlor or the cheese plant. It depends on the farm, so check ahead of time. And you always get tastes of cheese.

Whether cows, goats or sheep, each cheese has its own distinct flavor.

In general, cow’s milk, with larger fat molecules, has an earthy taste. The smaller fat molecules in goat’s milk contribute to a slightly tangier flavor profile. Sheep’s milk has the highest content of fat molecules which leads to a more nutty taste.

Achadinha Cheese by Appointment

Each girl on Achadinha Cheese Co has its own name and personality. You’ll meet William’s Jersey Cow Macy (#77) who has a tendency to walk in front of the cheese plant so she can look at her own reflection in the windows.

garden variety
Garden Variety Cheese by Appointment

At Monkey Flower Ranch, there are over 100 ewes providing milk for Garden Variety Cheese. Each ewe is named after a garden flower and produces milk for about 6 months of the year.

Harley Farms – Open to the Public

In addition all the dairy goats, Harley Farms also has guardian llamas, Anatolian shepherds and Rosie the Donkey. Rosie will look at you with a pleading, hungry face. But resist feeding her!

Long Dream Farm by Appointment

At Long Dream Farm, you’ll catch gorgeous heritage cattle roaming around the farm. They live outside year-round!

Pennyroyal Farm – Open to the Public

Cheese is made seasonally at Pennyroyal Farm. Each cheese is named from Boontling, a unique language that originated from Boonville and the surrounding hills at the end of the 19th century.

Spring Hill Farmstead Cheese by Appointment

At Spring Hill Farmstead Goat Cheese, you’ll find La Mancha dairy goats roaming around the farm.

Use our list of cheesemakers to plan out your next visit to a California cheese maker!