Do you know about the Sonoma County Cheese Trail? It winds through about a hundred miles of canyons, pastures, and oak-covered hills, linking close to 30 farms and creameries. Some of these farms invite guests to take full tours, while others hold daily cheese tastings. There are even cheese-making classes offered along the trail. Plus, you can visit with farm goats, cows, sheep, and even water buffalo.
Since the dairies are spread out, and are oftentimes in remote areas, the best way to explore is to start with a good plan. Choose your spots, then call ahead. Some cheese makers are open to the public on a regular basis; some are open seasonally or only by appointment; and some are just plain too busy making cheese. Make sure to check in advance, as some tours require reservations a month ahead, or only offer two to three tours per year.
Here are a few interesting picks for your cheese adventure along the Sonoma County Cheese Trail, compliments of Sonoma County:
Achadinha Goat Cheese Company
About 900 goats graze year-round on verdant pastures at this popular dairy. These goats eat grass that is supplemented with alfalfa and brewers’ grain from local breweries. All cheeses are handcrafted. Try the smoked summer goat sausage. (750 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma, 707-763-1025)
Bodega Artisan Cheese
In the heritage farmstead tradition, these country cheeses are produced 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. Cheese-making classes are also offered. (Bodega, 707-876-3483)
In the mood for some real mozzarella di bufala? Then visit this farm where Italian water buffalo live and roam. Call to schedule a tour and a picnic tasting, then stay to play with the adorable baby buffalo in the pastures and “calf town.” (175 Gericke Road, Tomales, 415-690-6633)
Joe Matos Cheese Factory
Owners 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. 3669 Llano Road, Santa Rosa, 707-584-5283
Pug’s Leap Cheese at White Whale Farm
After running their goat dairy, White Whale Farm, for several years, Anna and Dan Conner took over Pug’s Leap in 2010, continuing the high-quality cheese-making tradition. (5880 Carroll Road, Petaluma, 707-876-3300)
Weirauch Farm & Creamery
This is where dairy sheep are raised for seasonal production of raw aged cheese. They’ve made creative re-use of portable trailers for milking and cheese-making in an Animal Welfare Approved method. (Petaluma, 707-347-9401)
Now you know about the Sonoma County Cheese Tail. But do you know about the amazing properties for sale in this area? Call me at 707-953-9456 or contact me via email and we can find your dream home. I have several wine country estates for sale on my website. Take a look and let me know what you think!