Did you know what California has it’s own cheese trail?! I absolutely did not - but my best friend from college, Kayla, did! Kayla and I both went to Cornell together and studied winemaking there. We planned to meet up during my trip, and our time together is never bland- she suggested that we go on a cheese tasting adventure through the cow covered hills of Petaluma! How could you say no to that?! (unless you are lactose intolerant *insert sad trombone sound.
As someone who creates and sells a product in a store, I am always thinking about marketing. The fact that some dairy products picture having beautiful rolling hills of green with cows happily grazing on their packaging seemed like a scam to me, but the photo you were greeted by in this blog is the real deal!
Part of our tour of the Achadinha Cheese company was going through the farm and learning every single process of making cheese. This included what foods are best to feed cows for a larger or smaller butter fat percentage. For example, many yogurt brands advertise that their cows are grass fed because it leads to a smaller butter fat percentage, which in turn, makes their yogurt less fatty. But, Achadinha Cheese is not afraid of fat (nor am I!) and they feed their cows barley and other healthy non-GMO foods to will create a lot of butter fat. They emphasized that they only feed their cows and goats what is in season to have an optional butter fat percentage. Their cheeses can vary in butter fat due to the season, which is really cool to have learned!
We also saw their cheese caves, pasteurization process, and learned how to properly taste cheese, butter and yogurt!
We tasted cheeses from what they offered by most mild to strong. This way, we were able to enjoy each product while not overwhelming our taste buds! Just like wine, you should taste from most mild (usually a white) to most tannic (aged reds).
After we had our fill of cheese….and fumes of the dairy farm (they were PUNGENT lol) we were ready to head to Napa to visit Signorello Estate, where one of my friends, Alan G. works for. He called me up to see if I’d like a tour. How could I say no to wine?! But, before I get into that, Kayla, Gino (her boyfriend) my sister and I made a pit stop to good ol’ In n’ Out burger.
It’s not a trip to California if you do not stop at In-N-Out burger. They make the best burgers, fries and milkshakes, ever. (simply my opinion!) We only had thirty minutes between our appointments in Petaluma and Napa, so we had to find food, fast, in order to be timely. As you can tell in the photo, I was very happy to be there!
Our visit to Signorello was nothing short of magical. The wines were absolutely fantastic, and the property was straight out of a dream. The winery sits on top of a hill in Napa and as you climb the hills of the property, you can see other houses and wineries. It’s a great spot to take a deep breath and take in all of earth’s beauty. A view like you have here… makes you appreciate the little things in life- fresh air, greenery, vines, sun and those around you.
Our hosts drove us around the properly on golf carts and allowed us to roam the vineyards and surrounding areas. Once we were done, they drove us down to the tasting room. Sadly, their original tasting room was destroyed in the Northern CA fires in 2017- although they lost their buildings in the devastation, they did not lose what was most important— the vines.
If the vines were taken by the flames. it would have taken 5-6 years to grow them back. Vines take at least that amount of time to produce a viable crop for winemaking. Luckily, Signorello had insurance so they could quickly rebuild! They are still under construction but are looking forward to changing things up with a build that has a modern look. Take a virtual tour of the property to check things out!
Overall, we had an amazing day in Petaluma and Napa - full of nature’s beauty, cheese, wine…and in-n-out burger. But, most importantly, I was able to spend time with my best friend, Kayla, whom I haven’t seen in 2.5 years!
If you have any questions or want to learn more about my second day in California, tweet me at @RedHeadWine
Cheers to you! - Winemaker, Marisa