Valley Ford Cheese snags top award at California State Fair

Valley Ford Cheese Company won Best of Show/Cow Milk for its Estero Gold Reserve at the 2012 California State Fair California Cheese Competition.

The cheese is made from a prize-winning herd of 400 Jersey cows at Mountain View Jerseys, located on the rolling pastures above the Estero Americano.

"It's aged over a year," said cheesemaker Karen Bianchi-Moreda. "We're still really small in production, so it's pretty exciting. I'm still in shock."

Barinaga Ranch in Marshall won Best of Show/Other Milk Type for its semi-hard cheese, Txiki, inspired by the cheesemaking traditions of the Basque region of Spain.

The cheese is made from a small flock of dairy sheep that graze on 100 acres on the hills east of Tomales Bay in Marin County.

Other local winners who won Best of Division awards: Marin French Cheese Co. in Petaluma for its Marin French Gold, in the semi-soft cheese division; Laura Chenel's Chevre in Sonoma for its 8-ounce log, in the soft cheese division.

The winning cheeses were up against some of the best cheeses in the North Bay, including Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, Redwood Hill Farm in Sebastopol and Vella in Sonoma.

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