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The Best California Cheese Brands

The Best California Cheese Brands

Whether you're craving creamy Brie or tangy chèvre, these top California cheese companies have you covered with their artisanal treats.


4 min read

May 29, 2020

If creamy mascarpone, tangy cheddar, gooey Gorgonzola, tantalizing mozzarella, and intriguing burrata are your favorite foods, then you need to sample California cheeses. With happy cows and plenty of farmland, the Golden State is known for its high-caliber dairy industry and all the tasty treats that come with it. From making the best ice cream to producing quality milk, we seem to have it all figured out—especially when it comes to creating the one thing we just wouldn’t want to live without: cheese. 

With California's rich tapestry of cheese trails, it's evident that the state boasts a storied history in cheesemaking. The creation of Monterey Jack cheese in the Bay Area during the 1800s marks just the beginning of this delicious narrative. As pioneers and their herds made their way to California amidst the Gold Rush, a diverse cheese culture flourished, adding numerous varieties to the state's culinary repertoire. Despite this longstanding tradition, California's cheeses continue to surprise and delight with their vast spectrum of flavors. From the earthy notes of Humboldt Fog goat cheese to the savory twist of roasted-garlic Jack, California offers the perfect cheese to suit any palate or occasion.

The Best California Cheese Companies

With so many cheese producers in California, choosing a favorite is nearly impossible. Between crafting your ideal cheese board, mixing it up with
decadent macaroni and cheese, and tossing the best pizzas, there’s a different type of cheese for every culinary calling, so why just choose one? Here are a few of our top California cheesemakers with cheeses that are worth trying—and are so good you just might be inspired to take a road trip along the California Cheese Trail

Named after the famed Bay Area landmark, Mt. Tam is Cowgirl Creamery's signature cheese.

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Cowgirl Creamery

Based in: Point Reyes Station

Nestled in the heart of the Bay Area, Cowgirl Creamery stands as a cherished gem among California's cheese artisans. Founders Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, after forging successful paths post their college years in Tennessee, ventured westward to California. Here, near the vibrant city of San Francisco, they embarked on a culinary adventure, creating a cheese haven with the freshest milk from the local Straus Family Creamery in Petaluma.

Years have flown by, and today, Cowgirl Creamery is synonymous with exceptional cheeses that captivate the palate. Their selection boasts everything from the creamy delight of fromage blanc to the rich indulgence of crème fraîche, ensuring there's a flavor to enchant every cheese lover. What's more, their cheeses pay homage to the iconic landscapes of the Bay Area, with names inspired by landmarks like Mt. Tam, Chimney Rock, and Inverness, weaving a taste of California into every bite.

Petaluma Creamery

Based in: Petaluma

With a deep respect for animals and the land, Petaluma Creamery crafts delicious cheese using entirely organic, non-GMO, and hormone-free milk from its 400 pasture-raised Jersey cows. Established 100-plus years ago and located along the cheese trail in Sonoma, this is one of the top California cheesemakers, so you’re sure to find only the best products here. 

Choose between cheese curds, asiago, Colby-Jack, aged white cheddar, and several other drool-worthy types of cheeses from the company’s Petaluma Creamery, Petaluma Gold, and Spring Hill Jersey Cheese brands. Make the trip to Petaluma to pick up the freshest items—such as Sonoma County cheese, butter, ice cream, eggs, and milk—as well as a sandwich to bring on a picnic

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

Based in: Point Reyes Station

At the heart of sustainable farming and a deep-rooted family tradition in dairy ranching, the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company is a beacon of agricultural excellence. Imagine a journey along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, where the fresh ocean breeze and stunning views of Tomales Bay set the stage for an unforgettable culinary adventure. Here, you can indulge in the essential components of a quintessential California cheese platter.

Opt for their "Crowd Pleaser" assortment to sample an array of their finest offerings, including the savory Bay Blue, the creamy Toma, and the perfectly aged gouda. Complemented by a selection of date spread, chocolatey cacao nib and almond flatbreads, seasonal dried fruits, salami, and more, it's a feast for the senses. Or, for those who prefer to savor the moment, the Original Blue is a standout choice that promises to be a true taste revelation.

Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery

Based in: Valley Ford

Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery produces artisanal, handcrafted, Italian-style cheeses that are out of this world. Raised on certified-organic land, the Jersey cows reign over the pasture year-round. The cows are never treated with antibiotics or growth hormones, so the flavors in the cheeses are pure, and you can rest assured that the animals are treated humanely. 

Pick up some Grazin’ Girl Gorgonzola and Highway 1 Fontina, but don’t forget to grab the Estero Gold cheese that will have you reminiscing about the idyllic coastal escape of Timber Cove.

Cypress Grove

Based in: Arcata

Cypress Grove was an unexpected treasure when it opened in the early 1980s, and since then, it has had an everlasting impact on California’s cheese scene. Looking to give her children healthy milk, founder Mary Keehn acquired a few goats and decided to make cheese from the leftover milk—that’s when the famed Humboldt Fog was born. 

This legendary cheese literally came to Keehn in a dream and paved the pathway for soft-ripened goat cheese in the United States. Aside from its flagship Humboldt Fog, Cypress Grove also offers more than a dozen other cheese varieties made from high-quality ingredients. With aged, soft-ripened, and fresh goat cheeses to choose from, there’s a luxurious option for every occasion.

Rumiano Cheese

Based in: Willows

Rumiano Cheese is the oldest family-owned cheese company in California. It gained fame for becoming the largest cheese company in the state by the mid-1930s, but it’s the dry Monterey Jack cheese that keeps fans coming back after all these years. 

Hand-rolled and coated with pepper, cocoa, and mineral oil before being aged for up to a year, the award-winning dry Monterey Jack cheese is truly something special. After securing your block of Jack, choose between sliced, shredded, or organic cheese options along with butter and ghee to make any dish you cook that much better. 

With so much California cheese to choose from, you’ll never tire of sampling something new. If you love cheese as much as we do, share your favorite Golden State cheese brand in the comments below.

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