It's Not You It's Brie

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Bellwether Farms: Sheep's Milk Heaven

San Andreas in action. With visions of fluffy lambs jumping over wheels of golden cheese stacked on Sonoma's emerald hills, a friend and I drove with happy hearts to visit Bellwether Farms. Cheesemaker Liam Callahan doesn't normally give tours- his facilities aren't currently set up for handling visitors- so this was a very special ocassion. Plus, it was birthing season for the sheep and we were hoping to catch sight of the babies.

For whatever reason- my alarm clock not going off, highway 101 construction on the way to Petaluma, or us kind of getting "lost," we were late. The result? We missed the frolicking baby sheep but experienced one of the best cheese tours of our lives.

Thanks to Callahan, who took time out of his busy Friday to answer my 1,001 questions during cheese production, we were able to see (and understand) how they make their small batches of San Andreas and their coveted sheep's milk basket ricotta. Thank you so much for the tour Liam, and I hope "It's Not You it's Brie" readers enjoy the following photo tour of this traditional, family run creamery. Behind the scenes photos are taken by my cheesemaker tour photographer, Molly, who also captured the cuteness on the "Redwood Hill Kids, Come Home with Me" excursion.

The milking barn- After the magic happens in the fields, this is where the cheese starts.

Cutting the San Andreas curds under a holy glowing cheese light.

Stirring to help separate the whey (liquids) from the curds (solid proteins).

Draining the curds and whey from the cheese cauldron.

Scooping the curds from the mixture to drain in small perforated baskets.

The curds for the San Andreas are removed and the whey is funneled into a large cauldron to be made into ricotta.

Callahan deftly flipping the draining San Andreas to ensure even moisture loss and distribution.

After draining in a temperature controlled room for a few days, the San Andreas are transferred to an aging room. These wheels are San Andreas pepapto, a sheep's milk pecorino style cheeses flecked with peppercorns.


Cheesemites, always respected for their good taste, like San Andreas too, but Callahan only lets them play in one corner so they'll leave the other cheeses alone. Cheesemites are what makes the canteloupe rind-textured rind of Mimolette.

What's the best cheese tour you've been on? Any favorite cheese places you like to visit in your area?