Barinaga Ranch: Excellent Basque Cheese From Marin

Just as the Bay Area has a shorts-to-sweater array of micro climates, it has a stunning selection of micro-cultures of cheesmaking. You can find examples of cheese styles from countries around the world and milks across the animal spectrum throughout the Bay.

Barinaga Ranch in West Marin adds Basque cheese to the choices. Owner Marcia Barinaga is, “continuing the ancient shepherding and cheese making traditions of my Basque family and ancestors in Euskadi, the Basque region of Spain,” she says.

Barinaga makes cheese seasonally, with the natural milk cycle of her sheep. Animals produce milk to feed their young, not to make cheese. To meet volume demands, many cheese makers will raise animals indoors or use other tricks to stimulate year-round milk production. Baringa's herd grazes outdoors all year. The ewes have their lambs in March, and have milk enough to spare for cheese from April through October thereafter.

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