Travel: Barinaga Ranch Tour


Since the beginning of the year, I’ve received a monthly shipment of a couple pounds of sheep’s milk cheese. This cheese comes from Barinaga Ranch, which is just an hour and a half north of San Francisco (actually in the same town as our last stop on this trip). Saturday, June1, the hubs and I got to tour the ranch. (You can, too, by the way. Just go here.)

The ranch overlooks Tamales Bay and is on 800 (!!) acres, though not all of the acreage is needed for the sheep and creamery. The ranch owner, Marcia, and her husband also built their home on the property and they lease some of it out to other farmers.

Barinaga Ranch land is a part of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), meaning, when Marcia bought it, she was required to use it agriculturally. MALT ensures that Marin’s rich farmland is used for that purpose. Marcia comes from a Basque family, so she chose to establish a Basque sheep cheese farm and creamery. And it helps that she has a PhD in molecular biology and her husband is a geneticist–they have a very smart scientific approach to farming while maintaining a high respect for the land and animals.

Oh, and the cheese is spectacular.


These lambs were just born a month or two ago, but they’re already so big!

This is the milking facility. The ewes are trained to walk up the ramp and go to the farthest stall to snack while being milked.

barinaga collage
Sheep like cooler weather and this ranch overlooking the bay is perfect–even when it’s hot on the water, the hills stay cool and breezy.

These slices are the same cheese, but the one on the right has been aged for two additional months.

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