Marin County

4 Locations | 34 Miles

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Start right outside Novato at Marin French Cheese Company, the longest continually operating cheese company in the U.S., where you can picnic by the pond, shop in the retail store and taste award-winning Brie and Camembert cheeses as well as sister cheeses from Laura Chenel (goat cheese). Then travel west on the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, make a quick detour onto Nicasio Valley Road to the quaint village of Nicasio. There you’ll find Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. The Lafranchi family produces fantastic farmstead Swiss-Italian style cheeses with milk from their own organic dairy just down the road. You can view the cheesemaking through the window – best times are during the week and in the mornings. On Fridays May-October, they'll also do a tour of their organic dairy along with a cheese tasting. Sign up on their website. Then, retrace your steps to the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road and head into the town of Point Reyes for a charming two-block historic town with shops, restaurants and the great Palace Market that carries all the local artisan cheeses. From there, drive 3 miles north to the entrance of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese. You can visit their farm, purchase cheese from their on-site market, or plan ahead for one of their cheese tasting events. While in the area, we encourage you to visit the Point Reyes National Seashore for some spectacular hikes. – Or, if you plan ahead, you can sign up for a family-friendly farm tour with goat, sheep and cheese at Toluma Farms in the town of Tomales. Tours take place the first Sunday of the month and you can sign up on their website.

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01Marin French Cheese

Marin French Cheese Co., established in 1865 and the oldest cheese company in the U.S., has been handcrafting soft-ripened, French-inspired cheeses in California for over 155 years. Located on a 700-acre farm in West Marin County, Northern California, the company emphasizes traditional methods and high-quality ingredients. Using fresh local milk from Holstein, Jersey, and Guernsey cows, they produce small-batch cheeses with unique coastal California flavors.

Their historic creamery, a testament to their long-standing heritage, continues to create award-winning cheeses. Visitors are invited to enjoy cheese tastings, purchase local accompaniments, savor signature sandwiches at the Café, and relax with a picnic by the pond, surrounded by picturesque scenery.

02Nicasio Valley Cheese

Over a century ago, 17-year-old Fredolino Lafranchi left Switzerland for America, aspiring to run a dairy. He established Lafranchi Dairy on a 1,150-acre ranch in Nicasio, Northern California, with his wife Zelma. Their son Will, maintaining ties with his Swiss roots, frequently visited Maggia, their ancestral village. This connection inspired Will's sons to study cheesemaking in Switzerland and invite master cheesemaker Maurizio Lorenzetti to guide them in traditional Swiss cheese production.

Utilizing milk from their 400 cows, the Lafranchi siblings established Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, joining the burgeoning community of small farmstead creameries. Visit their Nicasio shop for a glimpse of cheesemaking and to enjoy a selection of their cheeses, along with picnic essentials.

03Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese

In 1959, Bob and Dean Giacomini established a sustainable dairy farm near Point Reyes Station. By 2000, they, along with their daughters, began producing cheese from their Holstein herd. A decade later, they opened The Fork, a culinary and educational center focused on farm-to-table experiences.

Now, the Giacomini sisters, Diana, Lynn, and Jill, run this WBENC-certified, women-owned company, internationally acclaimed for its artisan cheeses. Their Point Reyes Farmstead offers a variety of cheeses including Original Blue, Bay Blue, Toma variations, Gouda, and Quinta. These products are available nationwide in specialty stores, The Fork, local farmers’ markets, and online.

04Tomales Farmstead Creamery

David Jablons and Tamara Hicks purchased Toluma Farm in 2003, revitalizing a defunct cow dairy into a vibrant goat and sheep dairy and educational farm. Their 160-acre property in Marin County, near the Pacific Coast, pays homage to the ancestral homeland of the Coast Miwoks. With no prior farming experience, the couple, professionals in healthcare, transformed the farm's dilapidated barns and rejuvenated its neglected soil.

They opened Toluma Farms in 2007, followed by Tomales Farmstead Creamery, combining their commitment to a healthy ecosystem with quality food production. In 2010, they ensured the farm's agricultural heritage was preserved forever by partnering with the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. The farm, now a beacon of sustainable agriculture, offers educational tours and produces a range of artisanal cheeses, embodying the couple's dedication to environmental stewardship and community engagement