Central Valley - Loop #2

4 Locations | 62 Miles

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Starting in the center of California, two hours straight east from San Francisco, at the top of the Central Valley farming region, visit Stuyt Dairy Farmstead Cheese, where you can pick up a variety of Gouda, fresh cheeses and any new cheeses made by the family, who originally made their way here from The Netherlands. While there, peek into the tiny small-batch creamery. Another Dutch family, the Bulks, have their creamery, Oakdale Cheese & Specialties, just a few minutes away. They make Gouda of all varieties as well as a mean toasted Gouda grilled cheese sandwich. Picnic there and hang out with their animals in the outdoor petting zoo. From there, begin your trip south to Modesto, to another farmstead operation: Fiscalini Cheese Company. Cows surround their creamery, where they make their award-winning Bandage Wrapped Cheddar. Purchase cheese in their tiny office/shop. Then just a half hour south, for a completely different experience. Hilmar Cheese Company, the largest creamery in the world, making over two million pounds of cheese a day, was started by a group of dairy farmers. Videos show you the cheesemaking process, and there are all sorts of educational "toys" in their upstairs exhibit and even a restaurant. You can see cheesemakers filling curd into 200 lb. blocks. It’s not to be missed. As always, you don’t have to do it all. Pick and choose and then go back another time to discover what you missed the first time around.

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01Stuyt Dairy Farmstead Cheese

Stuyt Dairy Farmstead Cheese started in December 2015 by Rick and Ansally Stuyt. Ansally was born in the Netherlands and her parent’s immigrated to the United States in 1961. In 1965, her parents bought the property that she and Rick now own and operate. Rick grew up in the Netherlands and immigrated to the United States in 1985.

While Rick lived in the Netherlands he learned the process of cheese making. When he moved to California he missed his Gouda cheese from home so he started making his own for family use. Rick always wanted to have a small creamery, and what started as a life-long dream and hobby developed in Stuyt Cheese in 2015. The small creamery offers a variety of raw milk cheeses in addition to fresh cheese curds and spreads.

Stop by the gift shop Monday-Friday 8am-5pm or Saturday's from 10am-2pm to enjoy a variety of artisan products and to see the creamery through viewing windows. To schedule an appointment after hours, please call (209) 918-5690. Stuyt won gold with several flavors entered at the California State Fair Cheese Competition. In 2022 they won 3rd place at the American Cheese Society with their Spanish-style cheese, El Capitan.

02Oakdale Cheese

The Bulk family emigrated from the Netherlands and soon after opened their cheese plant in 1983. Today, the next generation runs the cheese shop with factory viewing windows, take out food (grilled cheese & cheesecake are on the menu), picnic area and small petting “zoo.”

03Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese

Fiscalini Farmstead started as a dairy farm over 100 years ago. Today the fourth generation owns and operates the business, and continues a way of life that respects, preserves and honors the animals, the land, and resources. Our farm was established in 1914 by our great-grandfather who immigrated from Switzerland and settled in Modesto, California. The dairy Farmstead has expanded to include a cheesemaking facility on the premises. We are committed to making the best-tasting, handcrafted cheeses in the world. We believe in the art and skill required to make cheese by hand. By using only the milk from our cows we achieve superior taste and quality which has won us numerous awards over the years. It is our mission to share our story and taste experience with the world.

Special Offer: Use Discount Code CHEESETRAIL10 to get 10% off via the Fiscalini website! Valid through April 17, 2024.

04Hilmar Cheese

Founded in 1984, Hilmar’s California site annually produces more cheese and whey from one site than any other manufacturer in the world, and employs more than 1,000 people. The Central Valley location receives milk from more than 200 local dairies and produces more than 1 million pounds of cheese each day. Much of their cheese is found in stores under other name brands. This is a great example of a large facility. The visitor center is full of educational opportunities from viewing the cheesemaking to agricultural and processing hands-on exhibits. Educational activities include ice cream making (and eating) and a new AgXscape game (similar challenge to an escape room). Free cheese samples and fresh cheese curds called Squeakers. Great for groups and also individuals just stopping by.