Santa Rosa is officially a cheese lover’s paradise. We knew this already, of course, but in case there was any doubt before, we now have a survey from a rather unlikely source to back it up.
A questionably scientific but undoubtedly delicious curd-to-curd survey of 200 U.S. cities by lawn care services company Lawn Starter (yes, you read that right) ranks Santa Rosa a respectable eighth in the country when it comes to cheese access, quality, affordability and community interest.
The judging rubric, according to Lawn Starter, includes the number of cheese factories and plants (Santa Rosa ranks second) in the area, total points for past U.S. Championship Cheese Contest Awards, average per-pound price of cheese and the number of cheese-related events and festivals.
The kudos come as no surprise to anyone who’s put together a gourmet cheeseboard in Sonoma County. The North Bay wrote the book (or at least the Cheese Trail Map) on delicious, artisanal cheesemakers along the North Coast, including Sonoma’s Vella Cheese, Sebastopol’s Joe Matos Cheese Factory, along with nearby Bohemian Creamery, Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma Creamery, Valley Ford Cheese Co., Bellwether Farms and Wm. Cofield Cheesemakers.
Laura Chenel practically invented goat cheese (not really, but she popularized it with chefs in the 1980s) here in Sonoma County. Cowgirl Creamery, now in Petaluma, brought small-batch sustainable cheeses to the forefront in the late 1990s and continues to produce exceptional cheese.
The list goes on and on, especially when we include our nearby friends in Marin (Marin French Cheese, Point Reyes Farmstead), and our neighbors to the north (Pennyroyal Farm, Cypress Grove).
No matter how you slice it, Sonoma County (and Santa Rosa) have some Edam good cheese, and that’s the whey we like it.
Don’t miss: The annual California Cheese Festival will take place March 24-26 at the Sonoma County Event Center and Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. The event includes a cheese crawl and an artisan cheese tasting and marketplace. For more information and tickets, visit artisancheesefestival.com.
Click through the above gallery for a few favorite cheese from Sonoma County.