California Cheese Crawl 2019: Highlights from the California Cheese Trail + Vlog

HIGHLIGHTS COVER - California Cheese Crawl 2019: Highlights from the California Cheese Trail + Vlog

Three days on the road and a ton of California cheese. On the surface, that’s what this California Cheese Crawl looks to be about. Honestly, when I was told I was going to this trip, I was very excited about the prospect of visiting the California countryside. All those times I’ve been to California, I’ve never had the pleasure to do that because I had no idea how to go about it, so to say I feel lucky to be a part of this is an understatement.

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All the farms we visited, and the bonus winery as well, exceeded my expectations. Even though the cheese companies were having you appreciate the single same thing, which was cheese, they all had very different approaches, each effective in their own ways. Even the winery we visited taught us to appreciate cheese with very good wine. I tried to condense the experience of the trip into a vlog.

California Cheese Crawl 2019: Cowgirl Creamery & other finds at the San Francisco Ferry Building

Farmers Market COVER - California Cheese Crawl 2019: Cowgirl Creamery & other finds at the San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco has a handful of iconic landmarks, and one of them is the Ferry Building. Aside from being a ferry terminal, it’s actually also an office building, and more importantly it houses a food hall and a farmer’s market. I was charmed by the idea of being able to grab some good food and getting to enjoy it by the bay, with Bay Bridge gleaming in the afternoon sunlight. Unfortunately, I did not get to do that because I spent way too much time geeking out over the artisan food products inside. Before I knew it, it was time for us to leave. Nonetheless, I did get to sample and take home some pretty awesome stuff!

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The clock tower that chimes at noon.

The last time I visited the Ferry Building was more than 10 years ago so I remember absolutely nothing about this place. When I saw that it was part of the itinerary for our Cheese Crawl however, I got excited. San Francisco is known to be one of the best places to discover artisanal products, and some of them you can find right here in the Ferry Building. I was expecting an experience similar to New York’s Chelsea Market, which I got to visit a couple of years ago. Well let me tell you: The vibe is completely different.

If you’ve been to Chelsea Market and have never been to the Ferry Building before, it’s safe to say the two places couldn’t be more different. Their focus is completely different too, in my opinion. In Chelsea Market, you get this dark industrial-themed place packed mostly with restaurants. Meanwhile, the Ferry Building is a bright and high-ceilinged affair, lined mostly with local products you can actually take home with you. I like that a lot. 

California Cheese Crawl 2019: Louis M Martini Winery, Napa Valley

Louis M Martini COVER - California Cheese Crawl 2019: Louis M Martini Winery, Napa Valley
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Wines on pedestals.

I’ve never been to a winery before. Somehow in all those previous times I’ve been to San Francisco, the timing just didn’t tie in with a visit to Napa Valley. My desire to go to one is not because I fancy myself a wine connoisseur or anything like that; a winery just seems like a fascinating place to visit. Well, thanks to our California Cheese Crawl with Real California Milk, I got my wish granted with this visit to Louis M Martini Winery.

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Watch out for this sign.

The winery is located along the South St. Helena Highway, with an appropriately wine-colored sign marking its location. I somehow forgot to take a photo of the exterior of the winery’s main building, but it’s a lovely piece of work. It’s reminiscent of a large wooden cabin in the middle of a huge expanse of greenery, surrounded on all sides by trees. That is, if a cabin could house something akin to a mansion inside.

California Cheese Crawl 2019: Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery, Sonoma County

Valley Ford COVERR - California Cheese Crawl 2019: Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery, Sonoma County
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Welcome to Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery!

Off the coast of Sonoma County, in a little town called Valley Ford, there stands a 640-acre farm that has been owned by the Bianchi family since 1918. Boasting lush, rolling pastures overlooking the wetlands of the Estero Americano, there is plenty of room for their 500 Jersey cows to roam. With the help of knowledge passed down by their Italian ancestors, this farm has been home to sustainable dairy and agricultural practices since the beginning. From building using recycled materials, to implementing a system that catches rainwater for use around the farm, earth-friendly practices continue to be a commitment for the Bianchi family many generations after. 

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The lovely California countryside.

With the passage of time, the Bianchi family saw the potential to evolve the business, taking a step from merely producing milk to producing cheese as well. Following the examples of their ancestors from the Ticino District of the Swiss-Italian border, they continue to grow their own crops to feed their own cows. Their healthy “closed herd” is what produces the top quality milk they use to make their awesome cheese. I realize that writing my intro this way makes it all sound like a fairytale, but it is the story of how Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery came to be.

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