We asked Sonoma County cheesemaker and chef Sheana Davis to put together the region's very best cheese pairings. Pen these wineries, breweries and dairy farms into your travel diary for the ultimate cheese adventure.
According to a new study by researchers at Boston University, dairy - including cheese - might be helpful in lowering women's blood pressure.
For the most part, the study focused on the potential health properties of a daily serve of yoghurt, but it did incorporate a moderate intake of milk and cheese in the mix too. Cheese lovers rejoice: your favourite indulgence could apparently have a couple of health benefits.
In recent years, Sonoma County has become a foodie hotbed within California. The region is peppered with biodynamic vineyards, organic growers, hip cider-houses, paddock-to-plate style restaurants, and - a good helping of artisanal cheesemakers too. If Sonoma County is not on your cheese trail destination wishlist, it should be.
Born and bred in Sonoma Valley, Sheana Davis has been making cheese in her hometown for over 25 years. With her cheese-centred business, The Epicurean Connection, Sheana also creates wine country inspired edible experiences for food enthusiasts the world over - from event catering to hands-on cheese making classes.
Here, Sheana has created a set of bespoke Sonoma cheese and wine pairings, based on the very best of the region.
Rosé with jersey cow milk cheese
Little Vineyards is a family-owned estate located in Glen Ellen. The Little family offer vineyard tours, wine tastings, and beautiful picnic grounds. If you're into music, inquire about the recording studio or you may find the owners performing on the patio.
Located in Sebastopol, Bohemian Creamery is a farmstead goat, cow and sheep farm, where you can visit the farm and taste their cheeses. Enjoy their cheese shop, and cool off with their sheep milk 'fro-yo'.
The best pairing: Band Blend Rose with Bohemian Creamery 'BoHo Bell', a Jersey cow milk cheese, aged 6-8 weeks with a deep golden rind. Garnish with Golden Raspberries.
Sauvignon blanc and triple cream cheese
Korbin Kameron is a winemaker and vineyard farmer, with vineyard located on Trinity Road in Glen Ellen. The tasting salon is located in downtown Glen Ellen, where you can taste and enjoy the wines, hand-crafted by Korbin. Vineyard tours are by appointment only.
Try my own award-winning 'Delice de la Vallee' cheese. It's a triple cow milk cheese, blended with a fresh goat milk. We host a pop-up cheese shop on the first and third Friday of each month in Sonoma at the Steiner’s Tavern.
The best pairing: Korbin Kameron Sauvignon blanc paired with Delice de la Vallee, a triple cream cow milk blended with a fresh goat milk. Garnish with a zest of fresh lemon.
Ale and washed rind cheese
Located in Santa Rose, Henhouse Brewing Company is a great taphouse, where all beers are made on site. There's a food truck on site that varies each day, and tours are run at 1.30pm and 3pm. Weirauch Farm and Creamery create delicious sheep and cow milk cheese, each handmade by Joel and Carleen Weirauch. The farm hosts tours and tastings daily by appointment.
The best pairing: Try the Saison Ale & Peau de Pêche with a washed rind two milk cheese, aged two-four months, creamy, robust and rich in flavor. Garnish with dried cherries.
Cider and goat milk cheese
Stop in and taste a selection of ciders at the Horse & Plow Cider Tasting Barn in West Sonoma County, Sebastopol. You can take a tour of their estate gardens, and can BYO picnic too. Two Rock Goat are third generation cheesemakers - cheese is made three to four times a week and then aged for over 60 days before it is ready to market.
The best pairing: Hops and Honey Cider paired with Two Rock Goat aged raw goat milk cheese. Garnish with a drizzle of honey.
Organic wine and aged raw cow milk cheese
Benziger Family Winery is an organic and biodynamic winery, located in Glen Ellen. The winery offers tours, tastings and you may bring a picnic, play Bocce and enjoy the stunning view of the Mayacamas Mountain.
Matos St. George Cheese Factory is located in West Santa Rosa, where multi-generations of Matos Family members make a 'Matos St. George' - an aged raw cow milk cheese, which is aged for a minimum of three months. Enjoy a taste of their cheeses in their firsthand cheese shop.
The best pairing: The Benziger pinot noir, paired with 'Matos St. George', their classic aged raw cow milk cheese. Garnish with golden and red raisins.
Olive oil with fresh cheese
Preston Farm and Winery is run by Lou Preston, a winemaker, and farmer who harvests his own olive oil, bakes fresh bread daily in a brick oven, and makes his own organic wine.
The Spring Hill Cheese Creamery & Cheese Shop is located in downtown Petaluma. Larry Peters produces over 20 varieties of cheeses, which you can taste when you visit the cheese shop.
The best pairing: Drizzle Preston Farm and Winery olive oil over Spring Hill pesto cheese curds - fresh curds tossed in pesto.