Mountain View Jersey Dairy, home of the Valley Ford Cheese Company located in Western Sonoma County, California looks a little something like this: 460 acres of luscious pastures full of grazing Jersey cows, big white barns and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. A typical day at the dairy consists of approximately 440 of the Jersey cows being milked twice a day, with over 1,200 cattle in total roaming the land, ranging from calves to adult cows. Owners Paul Bianchi, his daughter Karen Bianchi-Moreda and son Steve Bianchi are continuing the tradition of raising and milking Jersey cows, just as their family has been doing since 1918.
The Bianchi’s ancestors began raising Jersey cows, and the family has kept the cattle as a “closed herd,” meaning no other breeds have been introduced or cross-bred into the herd keeping them pure-bred. This helps create herd immunity and lowers disease risks. The Jersey cow is quite versatile, being able to adapt to hot climates and eat locally grown foods. They are also smaller than the average cow making them a breed that is easier to maintain, and the Bianchi’s love their gentle dispositions. The cows have virtually unlimited access to pasture, as they are fed in barns where doors are kept open so cows can come and go as they please. Maintaining the farm takes nine dedicated workers, one having worked for them for 19 years, as well as help from family, including Joe Moreda Jr., Karen’s oldest son who earned his degree in Dairy Science and Agribusiness.
The Bianchi’s also values their Jerseys for the high fat and protein content in their milk. This has played a significant role in earning both of Valley Ford’s cheeses the double gold medals at the 2010 Harvest Fair. Both the Highway One, a fontina-style cheese and the Estero Gold cheese were voted #1 unanimously by the judges at this annual wine and cheese fair featuring over 150+ wineries.
Karen Bianchi-Moreda says that having their dairy certified under the Certified Humane® program is important because it provides consumers with the assurance that they are buying a humanely raised product. “It’s a total education towards the consumer,” Mrs. Bianchi-Moreda explained. The Bianchi’s make a lot of effort to educate the public about their way of farming: the dairy even hosted a “farm day” for local elementary school classrooms last fall to give kids the opportunity to visit a working dairy farm.
Valley Ford’s selection of hand-crafted cheeses are sold in the Sonoma, Marin and Bay area of California and are gradually expanding as business is steadily growing.
To learn more, visit their website at: Valley Ford Cheese Company
For information on where to find other Certified Humane® products in your area, visit the “Shop” page of HFAC’s website.