Whenever I visit a supermarket, I check what butters are available. Butter from the North Bay is among the best in the country because our milk is so good and so I’m always on the lookout for new products and for sales, as prices have risen because of the drought. Butter is available at a few farmers markets but not all, and there is rarely a choice of vendors.
Recently, I spotted Haverton Hill Creamery Sheep Butter. The butter comes as eight ounces packed into a white cardboard box with purple lettering and tiny purple sheep. I slathered some on a piece of good bread and was not disappointed; it is absolutely delicious.
The Adiego family’s Haverton Hill Dairy, located on Bloomfield Rd. in west Petaluma, has been producing milk for Bellwether Farms since 2010. The family has been enjoying the milk at their table all along and last year established a small creamery. They now distribute a line of products throughout the Bay Area.
“There is no sheep milk available in the United States,” Missy Adiego said to her husband Joe Adiego a while back. “Why don’t we try it?”
The first products, milk and ice cream, hit their stride immediately. A lightly-salted butter was released in December and, after production was stabilized, re-released in late January. It has a bright, sunny flavor that is rich but slightly less viscous on the palate than cow’s milk. It is made in 10-gallon batches and packed by hand.
The milk is naturally homogenized and high in Vitamins A, D, E and B12, along with folic acid and trace nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. Many people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk or even goat’s milk find they can drink sheep’s milk without a problem, as the smaller fat globules, made of medium-chain fatty acids, are easier to digest.
Ice cream is offered in four signature flavors - vanilla bean, dark chocolate cacao nib, hazelnut crunch and mint chip, with a fifth seasonal flavor rotating throughout the year. Currently, you can find coffee, made using organic beans from Taylor Maid Farms. The ice cream includes egg yolks from pastured chickens and organic cane sugar.
The main farm consists of 378 acres on Bloomfield Rd., with another 100 acres in Bodega, a property that serves as a nursery for the lambs. There are currently 400 to 500 future milkers at the nursery farm. Currently, about 500 ewes are being milked twice a day, which takes about 2 ½ hours in the morning and again in the evening. A ewe produces a fraction of what a cow produces daily, about three-quarters of a gallon to a cow’s several gallons. The milk is bottled twice weekly and is on retail shelves throughout the Bay Area within a day.
In Sonoma County, you’ll find the products at Andy’s Market, Pacific Market and Community Market in Sebastopol; Community Market in Santa Rosa and Oliver’s Markets in Santa Rosa and Cotati. Whole Foods Markets, including in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Sonoma, carry Haverton Hill ice creams.
This is a true family operation. Missy and Joe Adiego head up the creamery, working with Joe’s parents, Jolene and Tony Adiego. Consumer education about sheep’s milk is an important part of the endeavor and when there are in-store demonstrations, a family member is doing it. It’s a busy life but, even so, they are happy to show visitors around the farm, provided advance arrangements are made. If you want to visit, contact the farm two to three weeks before your preferred date.