How Innovation Continues to Drive Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
By Peter Fugazzotto,
January 13, 2020
This year marks a special milestone for Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company: its 20th year making award-winning cheeses.
The success of this artisan cheese company, which sources its milk from MALT-protected land, is built on two foundations: family and innovation.
From Milk to Cheese
In the late 1990s, dairy farmers Bob and Dean Giacomini saw a need to make a change. They realized that the 500 cows they grazed on the dairy just north of Point Reyes Station were putting too much pressure on the breath-taking coastal pastures they were trying to steward.
So they shifted course,
reducing the size of their herd and branching out into the cheese-making
But diversification alone
was not enough to make this venture a success.
A Family Affair
It also required family. And so Bob and Dean lured their daughters — Jill, Diana, Karen and Lynn — back to the farm. All four had achieved success in various business careers, none of them cheese-making.
“Transitioning from prior business careers back to the farm, we had so much to learn about agriculture from our parents’ four decades on the property,” said Jill Giacomini Basch. “Walking alongside our parents was our on-the-job training. And, yes, in the early days we were paid in cheese.”
They further embraced innovation by selling a conservation easement to MALT in order to protect the land forever.
“Selling a conservation easement to MALT in 2005 helped us improve the business. It provided us with capital to remodel the original creamery and keep us on our trajectory forward in the cheese business. We have a strong belief in MALT’s mission and purpose, that of respecting and maintaining agricultural land in Marin. This guiding philosophy of our parents has been passed down to us.” Diana Giacomini Hagan
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company is now 100% women-owned by Jill, Lynn and Diana. And Bob, 82 years young, is still active in the business. The family continues to innovate:
- opening The Fork, the on-farm culinary and educational center, to promote artisanal and hand-crafted producers in the region,
- building a second creamery and distribution facility in Petaluma and
- even looking at using dairy robots to increase cow comfort and productivity.
And all the while still producing award-winning cheese recognized across the nation.
Learn more about Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company at pointreyescheese.com
Learn where to buy products from all MALT- protected ranches: malt.org/buy-local