The ocean-cooled weather of West Marin makes the soft, green hills of West Marin a great place to be a grass-munching cow. And it’s an even better place to be someone who enjoys the cheese made from the rich and creamy milk produced by all those free-ranging Jersey and Holstein heifers.
"West Marin has long been the source for premium milk and outstanding artisanal cheese"
West Marin has long been the source for premium milk and outstanding artisanal cheese and no creamery has been at it longer than the Marin French Cheese Co. Located on 700 acres just outside of Petaluma in the rural splendor of Marin County’s Hicks Valley, the soft cheese specialist has been producing its signature cheeses since 1865, making it the oldest cheese maker in the U.S. In fact, in post-Gold Rush San Francisco the company’s mildly tangy “breakfast cheese,” became a morning staple when the city faced an egg shortage amid the city’s surging population.
"Marin French has been producing its signature cheeses since 1865, making it the oldest cheese maker in the U.S."
The little wheel of cheese remains the company’s flagship product. The creamery also offers camembert-style cheeses as well as a diverse array of hand-crafted, soft-ripened cheese made with local milk. Newer on the scene is their buy-it-if-you-find-it Golden Gate cheese, an orange-hued, washed-rind beauty with savory, earthy, and funky flavors that pair well with hard cider and sparkling wine.
"A trip to their creamery and market is well worth it"
The cheeses are sold widely in stores, but a trip to their creamery and market is well worth it. Set against hills of waving grass and wildflowers alongside a picturesque pond that is sometimes home to river otters, the market attracts cyclists winding along West Marin’s roads, hungry locals and brie-loving day trippers from far and wide. As part of their connection to local agriculture, the surrounding hillsides and pastures are leased to cattle ranchers. In addition to a full line-up of their celebrated cheese, you can pick up great sandwiches, premium snacks, local olive oil and a well-chosen selection of cheese-friendly wines. Make a picnic of it at one the waterfront picnic tables or Adirondack chairs to truly appreciate what this California original has to offer. It doesn’t get any more farm to table than this.