A dairy and Petaluma pond provide an idyllic setting

MFC Grounds Cheese Spread on Picnic Table 1

If you’re driving somewhere stunning on the coast, you can certainly stop at Marin French Cheese Co. and buy provisions – the company’s famous artisanal cheeses, fresh sandwiches, wine – for a delicious picnic.

But here’s another idea: make this Marin cheese company your destination. Set amid rolling hills on a 700-acre farm in Hicks Valley, its cheese shop and spacious picnic areas offer a glimpse into West Marin’s pastoral paradise.

The company’s iconic sign along Point Reyes-Petaluma Road west of Novato invites passersby to stop and linger awhile. For locals, the cheese company, known simply as “The Cheese Factory”, has long been a destination to spend the day. It’s especially popular with families looking for a cute lunch spot where the kids can run around.

The cheese shop is housed in a classic farm-style building. The surrounding property is home to cows, chickens, a pig farm and a vegetable garden. And the historic cheese factory behind the shop has been making award-winning Brie and Camembert-style cheeses since 1865, making it the oldest cheese company in the United States.

Visitors to the Marin French Cheese Co. they can buy picnic provisions from the cheese shop and then have a picnic on the lawn or by the lake. (Photo courtesy Marin French Cheese Co.)

Using traditional French techniques, founder Jefferson Thompson created his classic Petite Breakfast cheese to feed San Francisco’s growing population of longshoremen after the Gold Rush. Since then, the company has expanded its repertoire to please contemporary palates, creating Brie-like cheeses made with mustard seeds, jalapeños or imported French truffles.

West Marin’s terroir and climate – cloudy mornings, cool ocean breezes and warm afternoons – help give these cheeses their signature flavors, and the weather also makes this an especially pleasant picnic spot any time of the year, but especially in the spring. spring, summer and early fall.

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