September 15th, 2015
CALIFORNIA — One doesn't have to be an oenophile to appreciate the charms of California Wine Country and the surrounding area encompassing Napa and Sonoma counties, including the towns of Healdsburg, Petaluma and Sebastopol, also part of California's Cheese Trail.
The cheese trail encompasses 23 creameries and/or dairies open to the public. There are 14 more in operation that are not open to the public. You can visit cheesetrail.org for a full list of the operations and details for visits. Some are open during set hours; others by appointment.
If you're interested in simply sampling and buying cheeses, Cowgirl Creamery at 80 Fourth St., Point Reyes Station, is a popular stop. It's open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays as of this writing, with 11:30 a.m. Friday tours by appointment months in advance.
You could also stop by Marin French Cheese Co., at 7500 Red Hill Road, Petaluma. It's open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
At Loleta Cheese Factory, you can witness the cheese making process through a window, and taste some of the 30 different types of cheese made there. It's at 252 Loleta Drive, Loleta, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
I appreciate going to the source so had to visit a site with goats. Dropping in at Bohemian Creamery in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, I found a Hawaii connection with owner Lisa Gottreich, an avid surfer who visits our islands frequently.
When she's not in the water, she makes a variety of Italian-style cheeses, and such novel creations as "Cowabunga," a soft Holstein cow’s milk cheese filled with a sweet cajeta (goat milk caramel), and "Surf n' Turf," an organic cow’s milk ripened to a soft thickness with a thin layer of Sonoma coast harvested toasted dulce seaweed through its center.
If you want to visit, you'll find Gottreich at 7380 Occidental Road, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, with tours by appointment.
It was all enough to make me want to go out and raise some goats.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.