Saturday is National Wine & Cheese Day! With over 58,000 acres of planted vineyards and roughly 64 licensed dairies, celebrating National Wine & Cheese Day is easy here in Sonoma County. And while we’re sure you have a few of your favorite wines stashed away… come on its quarantine we all do, you probably need to pick up some good quality cheese. So here are a few of our favorite cheese brands from Sonoma County and our neighboring counties.
Joe Matos Cheese Factory, Santa Rosa, Ca (Sonoma County) - Down a country road in West County, you’ll find Joe Matos Cheese Factory. These now 7th generation farmers continue their families tradition of making a cheese native to Portuguese heritage, St. Jorge. And If you’ve never tried St. Jorge Cheese, you are missing out! Available in: Original - a raw cows milk, Semi-Hard Cheese with a slight tang. The Picante - aged 9 months, moves into a more nutty flavor. And lastly the Patrao - aged 16 months is a hard cheese with sharp caramel notes, with a similar texture to an aged parmesan. Place an order online and pick it up at the farm or at one of the 3 Farmers Markets they attend.
How does Poppy & Vine enjoy St. Jorge? The original is a delicious addition to a grilled cheese sandwich with a side of tomato soup! On a cheese board, mixing with other favorite local cheese, or have some fun a do a taste test like we recently did while enjoying a bottle of Imagery Riesling.
Laura Chenel, Sonoma, Ca ( Sonoma County) - Goat cheese is an acquired taste, one that doesn’t always grow on you. But we highly recommend trying the vast line up of Laura Chenel goat cheese. Considered a “pioneer” of American goat cheese, she paved the way for future goat cheese makes and connoisseurs.
How does Poppy & Vine enjoy Laura Chenel Goat Cheese? In a beet salad with a champagne vinaigrette and a creamy polenta topped with roasted red bell peppers. As well as a recent addition to their cheese line-up, Marinated Goat Cheese.
Sonoma Creamery, Sonoma, Ca (Sonoma County) - Founded in 1931 and innovating the cheese market with their baked cheese snack-food line since 2014. Available in bulk and travel size packaging, these cheese crisps are perfect for a quick snack on the go, on a charcuterie board, added to a salad, frankly, just about anywhere! Added bonus, they are available at both local and national grocery chains!
Nicasio Valley Cheese, Nicassio, Ca (Marin County) - Originally founded in 1919 on 1150 acres, in West Marin County the Lafranchi Dairy family established the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company in 2010. Swiss-inspired and made from 100% organic farmstead cows milk, they offer a wide selection of fresh and aged cheeses… even a few deliciously stinky ones.
A few we enjoy most...Foggy Morning - a soft, slightly tangy, spreadable cheese. Delicious on toast with a blackberry jam or added to a classic omelet. The Nicasio Square packs a funky punch and it’s delicious. Available online, as well as local and national chain grocery stores.
Pennyroyal Farm, Boonville, Ca (Mendocino County) - Specializing in Goat and Sheeps Milk - their unique cheese blend changes with the season and the natural milk production of their herd. And while you likely won’t find yourself halfway up Highway 128 to stop in for a visit you can purchase their cheese online, or enjoy a charcuterie plate featuring two of their cheeses at Bricoleur Winery off Starr Road. In addition to delicious wines (we tasted through The Local List) and picturesque grounds, the charcuterie plate features Pennyroyal Farm Tomme and Laychee (a fresh cheese, with a similar texture to ricotta) flavored with truffle, housemade crackers, and jerky, a pork pate, and prosciutto. It is a must-try!
Where to Buy:
Buy direct - Visit their online stores or if appropriate their brick and mortar.
Local Super Market Chain - Oliver’s Market has a phenomenal cheese section, as well as Pacific Market.
Farmer’s Markets - located all over the county, visit Sonoma County Farm Trails for a full list… you are sure to find some hidden cheese gem’s there.
Another great source of information the California Cheese Trail - an interactive digital map, you can plan your whole day around cheese tasting up and down California.
Happy Eating - Poppy & Vine