Farm Tours are Back!

Finally, the time has come! Let’s visit all our beloved farms and spend some time outdoors, safely!

Harley Farms Tours are back. A Central Coast oasis of fun. And an incredible farm store too.

“Join our local guides on a walking tour of the farm. Say hello to this year’s kids. Walk alongside our milking herd, Anatolian shepherds, donkeys and Gentleman Jim the alpaca. Stroll our berry fields and admire the British White cattle.

Spot peacocks and wild turkeys in the orchard with the beehives. Leave with a whole new appreciation of where your food grows, and a farmstead cheese on the house.

Do bring your kids to visit any time during open hours, especially in the spring when we will have our kids in small pens in the main farm corral. We don’t recommend farm tours for younger children, because they involve talking, listening and standing around.”

Book your tour spot today

Tomales Farmstead Creamery & Toluma Farm tours are back in action.

You can book a private tour through tolumafarms@gmail.com

Tours include a tour and explanation of milking parlor, visit with the animals in the barn and/or pastures, hike up to the pastures to learn about our organic pasture management system, peek into the creamery with an explanation of how they make their cheese.

You can also book through Food and Farm Tours which include stops at Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead of Bivalve Dairy.

Ramini Mozzarella Farm Tours are also being held.

The tours are completely outdoors to ensure social distancing is in place with the exception of the one-way milking barn walk through. Masks are required on site.

There is limited reservation capacity, so grab a spot ahead of time. Tours are on Saturdays.

There are no mozzarella tastings on site. Instead, every party is sent home with a tub of mozzarella for a take home sampler.

The baby Buffalo petting is split up into 3-4 smaller groups for a safer and more intimate petting session.

Book your tours on the now.
Ramini Mozarella Tour Bookings

Farm Tour Season!

It’s that time of the year again!

Harley Farms

Our California cheesemakers offer farm tours year round. Each one is a little different depending on where their farm is located in California.

As spring comes along, that means baby goats will be around!

Check out the following cheesemakers for available farm tours!

Achadinha Cheese
Cowgirl Creamery
Harley Farms
Pennyroyal Farms
Point Reyes Farmstead Creamery
Stepladder Creamery
Straus Home Ranch
Toluma Farms & Tomales Farmstead Creamery

Pennyroyal Farm

Pedrozo Dairy & Creamery

I love talking to Tim Pedrozo about the issues of small dairies. Because he’s a dairyman and I grew up on a dairy and manage a farm. We’re both looking for solutions.

Cows grazing at Pedrozo Dairy and Creamery

I’d been meaning to visit Tim’s farm for years. I finally made it. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I saw was so – dare I say it – delightful. Tim and his family have collected an assortment of different breeds of cows. And there are just a handful. Maybe 25. And they wander around right outside their home.

Tim takes care of the cows. His son Tom makes the cheese. His daughter Laura does the marketing. His wife Jill works both off the farm and on.

The Pedrozo Family with one of their award-winning cows.

The cheese is fabulous. It’s raw, tasty and great to eat on its own or in recipes. As a matter of fact, while celebrating Raw Milk Cheese Day, they had a crockpot full of homemade Mac ‘n Cheese that was to die for.

The Pedrozos show their cattle at various fairs, often winning top honors. A couple of times a year, they open their farm where you can get up close with the cows and buy wheels of cheese at a very reasonable price. They also ship cheese direct to your door.

Pedrozo Dairy and Creamery is located in Orland, in the north Central Valley, near Chico. I enjoyed my visit. You can stop by yourself during the Sierra Oro Farm Trail Passport Weekend on October 12th and 13th.

If you have a chance, pick up some of their cheese at your local store. Check where it’s sold HERE.

Sign at Pedrozo Dairy and Creamery

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.

Fiscalini Cheese

An American original with Swiss roots.

The year is 1886, when Mateo Fiscalini emigrates from Switzerland with his family. First finding work on the railroad, he eventually settles all the way west in Cambria, California.

In 1912, Mateo’s son, John Baptiste Fiscalini, a graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, purchases 160 acres of land in Modesto. Two years later he starts a dairy farm with ten cows.

By 1995, two generations later, the Fiscalini farm has a large herd of Holstein cows. And in 2001, John Fiscalini, the grandson of John Baptiste, who has dreamt of making cheese, is introduced to Mariano Gonzalez, master cheddar-maker from Paraguay. Mariano develops a bandage-wrapped cheddar, sweeping up many awards, and giving British cheeses a run for their money.

Today, Fiscalini Cheese produces award-winning cheeses with the knowledge and spirit of four generations of family behind them. And, best of all, you can visit them.

Stop by their farm and creamery (yes, the cows are right there!) to pick up cheese in their front office. If you feel like making it a bigger cheese journey, Fiscalini can be just one of your stops on the Central Valley Cheese Loop #1.

This month you can find Fiscalini’s San Joaquin Gold on promotion at Whole Foods Market in Northern California. San Joaquin Gold is an Italian-style, semi-hard cheese made from raw cow’s milk. It is named after the beautiful San Joaquin valley where it is made.

5 New Cheesemakers to Visit

Get out the Lactaid, it’s time for a road trip!

This article by Sarah Stierch originally appeared on North Bay Voyager


The friendly ladies at Fresno’s Rocky Oaks Goat Creamery. (Courtesy photo)

California is one of the cheese capitals of the world. Our fair state has 80 creameries producing every type of cheese under the sun from every corner of the state. From Crescent City’s Rumiano Cheese Co. which produces Dry Jack, to Silverdale Cheese, which produces butter and cheese from its El Centro headquarters, California’s cheese is as diverse as our population.

To help guide one through the overwhelming amount of producer, we turn to the California Cheese Trail map, which is now in its eighth printing.

The map, which is available online and at visitors bureaus and welcome centers across the state, was launched in 2010 by Vivien Straus. (You might recognize her last name, her family founded Straus Family Creamery.) Straus is a self-proclaimed “woman with a slight addiction to cows” who loves cheese and advocates for producers and sustainable farming.

Thankfully for cheese lovers, the new map means new cheeses to try! Here’s five of the newest additions to the map to check out.

Bivalve Dairy, Point Reyes Station

Located on the site of the scenic Bianchini Ranch in Point Reyes, Bivalve is the brainchild of Karen Bianchini and John Taylor. In 2006, Bianchini and Taylor decided to return to the farm of Bianchini’s youth, where the couple would continue sustainable ranching practices and raise their three children. Today, they operate Bivalve Dairy onsite.

The dairy is 100% organic and pasture-based with over 400 cows on property, including 200 milking cows. In March 2019, Bivalve released their first cheeses, debuting them at the California Artisan Cheese Festival: Mendonça, a semi-hard Portuguese island cheese, and Foundry Fresh, an organic cream cheese. Currently, Bivalve is open by appointment for farm tours which are $25 per person. bivalvedairy.com

To Read the Rest of the Article Click Here Northbay Voyager

The 2019 Cheese Map is Out!

Plan your next California cheese adventure.

The 2019 Cheese Trail map shows you 49 cheesemakers open for visits including address, hours and tour instructions.

Travel Highway 99 through the Central Valley. There’s cheese everywhere!

In Gold Country there are small farms with Highland cows, goats and feta cheese.  

Pick up fresh mozzarella and ricotta direct from a Los Angeles creamery.  

Travel the north coast and get a grilled cheese by the crashing waves.  

Pet a goat on the Central Coast.

In San Francisco, the first creamery EVER, Daily Driver opens in May.

Sonoma and Marin? Well, you knew it was all there, but maybe you didn’t know the specifics.  Now you do!

Download the map online, order a free copy to be sent to you, or if you’re a tourism office or business, pick up boxes of maps to hand out. 

The farms and cheese and cheesemakers are all waiting for you.

Visit Achadinha Cheese

Just a short jog outside historic Petaluma you can meet goats, see sweet, brown Jersey cows grazing in the fields, and taste cheese.

The Pacheco family of Achadinha Cheese, the sixth generation of a Portuguese farming family, offer both farm tours and cheesemaking classes. Right there on the farm.

Wrapping the curd tightly in cloth, allows the whey to drain out.

Donna is bubbly and Jim always makes me smile. Their “kids” are coming into their own. And the cheese is fantastic. They make fresh cheese, cheese curds, feta and aged cheeses with a combo of goat and Jersey cow milk.

You may have seen their cheese at farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, but what better way to really enjoy a cheese, than to know where it comes from and meet the people behind it. Click HERE to see a list of their upcoming farm tours and classes.

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!