As a big fan of Sonoma County's Bellwether Farm dairy products (I'll never make another lasagna with any other Ricotta), I'm super excited to be showcasing delicious half wheels of Bellwether Blackstone and Carmody cheeses in my upcoming book signing and reading (free to attend) fundraiser at Petaluma Historical Library and Museum, on Wednesday evening, November 30th.
Do mark your calendars and stop by the museum between 6.30 pm and 8pm on November 30th. Regional wine will be poured along with these amazing local cheeses, salami and artisan bread. I'll be reading from my new book, Fog Valley Winter at 7 pm and anticipate a lively discussion on local history after the wine has flowed! Fifty percent of all book sales that evening will boost museum coffers. Be there with your holiday gift list! Books will be pre-signed so you don't have to stand in line unless you'd like them personalized.
All sorts of exciting things have been taking place in the artisan cheese arena here in Sonoma and Marin Counties and our friends at philanthropic Bellwether lead the pack of extraordinary farmstead producers.
Counting their blessings is not unlike counting sheep for the founders and cheesemaker at Bellwether Farms in western Sonoma County.
A treasure of awards from national and International competitions this year recognized the full spectrum of the farm's fresh and aged cheeses and cultured products.
Bellwether Farms’ new mixed-milk cheese, my favorite — Blackstone, took 1st Place in its premier at the American Cheese Society competition, Des Moines, and Gold at CalExpo, Sacramento.
Whole Milk Basket Ricotta won in all four competitions that it was entered, including International recognition from the World Cheese Championship, Wisconsin, which also awarded Third Prize to Pepato, Bellwether Farms aged sheep cheese.
Perennial crowd pleaser Crème Fraiche added a second place ribbon to its roster of more than a dozen awards since 2000. (A complete list of 2016 awards follows.)
This year (2016) marks the 30th year in business for Bellwether Farms, founded in 1986 by the Callahan family in Valley Ford, California.
Pausing to reflect on the company’s history, the Callahans have determined to share their success by establishing the nonprofit Bellwether Farms Foundation.
“We are pledging one percent of our sales to strengthen the food system by supporting organizations which provide hunger relief or food-related education to our communities,” says Liam Callahan (Pictured below). “We can’t end hunger alone but we feel that food producers must invest in kids learning about and eating good food.”
The Bellwether Foundation will seek opportunities to invest in communities across the U.S. where the company’s products are sold.
In more exciting news, winter 2016 will see the launch of Bellwether Farms Organic Yogurt, a cow milk companion to the popular sheep yogurt they’re well known for.
“Our commitment to produce naturally healthful dairy products started with our first cheeses in 1990”, says Liam, “adding the new organic cow milk yogurt to our line is one more milestone in that ongoing commitment.”
Organic cow milk for the yogurt is sourced from a neighboring Jersey dairy, to which live cultures and the highest quality fruit is added. Flavors include Blueberry, Blackberry, Strawberry, Spiced Apple, Vanilla and Plain. The new yogurt is packed in 5.3-ounce cups and a 4-pack of 3.75-ounce cups. Each cup has a foil seal depicting the Bellwether Farms Foundation’s logo and pledge.
2016 Awards for Bellwether Farms
Good Food Awards
Whole Milk Basket Ricotta
American Cheese Society, Des Moines
1st Place Blackstone
2nd Place Whole Milk Basket Ricotta
2nd Place Crème Fraiche
World Championship Cheese Contest, Wisconsin
Third Award, Whole Milk Basket Ricotta
Third Award, San Andreas
CalExpo State Fair, Sacramento
Bronze, Crème Fraiche
Bronze, Whole Milk Basket Ricotta