On Saturday, I had the pleasure of going up to Marin County and visiting the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. I met with owners Rick and Scott Lafranchi who took me on a memorable tour. After Immigrating from the town of Valle Maggia in Switzerland, Rick and Scott’s grandfather, Fredolino Lafranchi and his wife Zelma opened a dairy farm in 1919 in Nicasio, California. Lafranchi Dairy was one of 23 dairy farms at the time located in this region.
“Slowly, dairy farms started disappearing. The building of dams put farms out of business and land became cheaper elsewhere such as in the central valley. Then, came the increase in demand for dairy products but all that was quickly soaked up by mass production and it asked for far more cows than we had in this region anyway.” explained Rick. It was a really challenging time for Lafranchi Dairy so in 2002, they decided to change things up and add a value to their operation. Point Reyes Creamery had just recently opened in 2000 and had introduced a new idea to the region: cheese. In 2004, the Lafranchi family traveled back to their roots to Valle Maggia in Switzerland to visit their relatives.
“In Valle Maggia, we tasted the best cheese from master cheesemaker, Maurizio Lorenzetti. Immediately, we thought how amazing it would be to make this back home. If West Marin to cheese could be what Sonoma is to wine, we could be a part of something really special.” expressed Rick.
After some cheesemaking workshops with Lorenzetti and inspired by Point Reyes Creamery, Nicasio Valley Cheese Company opened in 2010. Now a household cheese name, Nicasio has released 10 delicious and award winning cheeses. On the tour, I got a little peak of how it’s all made. “Many of our cheeses need different aging rooms because they require different aging times. Cheese is really interesting to make. The cheese you make today can be a completely different cheese in 10 days.” explains Scott Lafranchi as he takes me into every aging room.
The care and effort that goes into making each cheese at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company is truly special so if you haven’t had a chance to buy their cheeses, they are available at your nearest supermarket or online.