The new Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail winds about a hundred miles through the redwood canyons, pastures, and oak-covered hills of Marin and Sonoma counties just north of San Francisco. It links more than two dozen artisans who make distinctive cheeses using local milk from grass-fed cows, sheep, and goats.
“The milk’s just sweeter,” says Gabe Luddy, great-grandson of Vella Cheese Company’s founder in Sonoma. “Our climate and temperature make a difference.”
The area looks nearly unchanged since 1865 when Marin French Cheese Company began making semisoft breakfast cheese for San Francisco’s dockworkers. Now the company crafts 20 varieties in its factory near Petaluma. Visitors can tour the plant, buy savory wedges on-site, and picnic overlooking a duck pond.
At Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, the Fork education center offers an all-day, hands-on cheesemaking class. Nick’s Cove in Marshall serves Point Reyes Farmstead cheeses so guests can indulge without putting on that apron.
This piece, written by April Orcutt, appeared in the August/September 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler.