Swiss Family Blazes California Cheese Trail

This post by Editor-In-Chief, Jennifer Ray

The car is loaded up with crackers and my family and I are about to set off on the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail! Every person I have told about the upcoming adventure has been supportive and most have implied an interest in one day taking on the trail themselves. But no one I know has ever done it before. I suppose we are pioneers.

Over one half of California’s artisan creameries are located in Sonoma and Marin County. “The Marin Economic Forum has introduced the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail Map, the state’s first guide to visiting artisan cheese makers” (California Bountiful).

The idea to travel this cheese trail came to me as I read an issue of California Bountiful magazine. The idea kept popping up again and finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. I texted my mom (a 100 percent Swiss Italian) and said, “We need to go on the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail.” I knew I could count on her. Her reply was something along the lines of making it a “bucket list” item. I clarified that this was an “end of summer bucket list” item, not a “before we die” kind of thing. And the planning began.

Our goal for the four-day trip is to purchase at lease one wheel of cheese (probably more)as we explore and taste (and make our Swiss ancestors proud).  My mother’s Noni (grandmother,) whom I never had the chance to meet, was a Swiss immigrant who made her own wheels of cheese. She loved eating cheese and so does the rest of our big Swiss family! My mom and I are like mice who have been dreaming about the cheese we are sure to find. We’ve compiled a binder with information and notes about the trip. My dad enjoys cheese as well and is coming to supervise and DD (just in case we find some wine along our way).

I think it is only appropriate to bring along the family heirloom, a cheese backpack from the Swiss Alps. Our relatives would milk their cows and make their cheese in the Alps. Then, they would carry the wheels down the mountain on packs like this. My Nono (my grandfather and a Swiss dairyman) gave this backpack to my mom for safe-keeping.

The date on the back is 1868. The wheel in the picture is plastic, but we will be replacing it soon!

It could not be a more perfect plan for a family vacation. We love road trips and agriculture and  and cheese. There is really no reason why we haven’t done this yet. Plus, I need to do something fun before the Cal Poly Fall Quarter kicks off on September 18! This trail is only 2 hours and 44 minutes from our home (according to MapQuest).  It’s only too bad my brother will not be joining. He has graduated (from Cal Poly of course) and  will be too busy tending to almond tree research (his job). I will try to make him feel included through the blog. Tag along by following the blog or tweeting with @AgCircleMag and trending with #cheesetrail.

Check out this video about the trail!

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