Aug 1, 2018
By Su McMurtry
Sonoma County has many treats and special places to discover, and summer is the very best season for riding the back roads of our county. If you love goat cheese like I do, it’s fascinating to tour of a goat farm to learn how the goats are cared for, how they live, and how their milk is made into cheese.
I discovered Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese farm in lovely western Petaluma right across from the famous Two Rocks. This amazing farm is home to over 200 goats, all lovingly hand-raised by Bonnie DeBernardi with some help from her children and nine grandchildren.
When Bonnie purchased two Nubian goats, Ella and Lynne, to be pets for her grandchildren, little did she know that her love of these animals would become a second business, that of milking the goats and producing three varieties of goat cheese: young, aged and brie.
Bonnie’s husband Don grew up in Switzerland and learned his cheese making skills in the European tradition. He and Bonnie had been raising, milking Holstein dairy cows since 1968, so it was natural that as the goat population grew, he would resume his skill of making cheese as a hobby. That hobby turned into a business!
Visiting the farm was really a special treat. The goats are penned by age so we got to see the five-month old kids, and the nine-month olds, the mothers, and even the fathers that are kept separate from the girls until their talents are needed. It is really amazing how affectionate they all are and how they vie for Bonnie’s attention, which she readily gives. She also encourages visitors to meet and pet her girls as she introduces them to you by name.
In addition to the kids at play, Bonnie introduced us to the milking herd, to the pregnant does, and to some of the male goats (really BIG guys). Bonnie says these moms bear up to three kids at a time!
Don makes cheese several times a week so you can purchase it while you are at the farm or get a list of retail and farmers markets (also listed on their website) where it is sold throughout Sonoma and Marin Counties. He also sells wholesale so just ask if you are interested.
No matter what direction you come from to get to the farm, it’s a beautiful drive. The hills and views of western Sonoma County are gorgeous and the epitome of pastoral bliss. It’s good to let your eyes rest on far distances and see that yes, there are still wide-open spaces in Sonoma County. You just have to get out to where they are. This trip was a very interesting and enriching experience.
Please call to make a reservation to tour Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese Farm at 707-762-6182 at 7655 Valley Ford Rd., Petaluma. tworockgoatcheese.com. This is definitely a family-friendly way to learn about dairy farming and cheese-making.
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