One of my favorite Sonoma County culinary travels is to Weirauch Farm and Creamery, established by Joel and Carleen Weirauch (pronounced “why-rock”) in East Petaluma.

This is one of our county treasures as the Weirauchs have created some of the finest cheeses in the country, and we are honored they are an active part of our community.

All of the Weirauch Farm and Creamery cheeses are made by hand in small batches by the husband and wife team. Their sheep milk cheese and certified organic cow milk cheese are available direct at farmer’s markets and through a few specialty retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The artisan cow cheeses, which include milk from off-farm sources, are available year-round. The farmstead sheep cheeses, made from milk collected on the same farm where the cheese is produced, are available seasonally. They also produce sheep-milk soap seasonally, October through December.

The Weirauch Farm’s flock of sheep and all of their products are certified through the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) program. Be sure to join their Farm Club Membership for updates on special events and new cheese releases. You can also learn more about their sustainable farming practices, from rotational pasture management to water re-use from the creamery for irrigation.

During my visit, I picked up a selection of cheeses and headed over to get a few cases of locally produced cider from both Tilted Shed Ciderworks and Devoto Orchards and Gardens.

Husband-wife team Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli established Tilted Shed Ciderworks in 2011 and named it after a “tilted shed” located on their Sebastopol property. This family-owned orchard features more than 24 varieties of Sonoma County-grown apples.

Ellen and Scott work together to create unique ciders that are fresh, pure, hand-pressed and naturally fermented. It’s a privilege to experience these ciders as Ellen and Scott have poured their life into their business, and the taste truly reflects their proficiency. As you take in the flavors, derived from their blending of varieties, you can tell this is a cider produced with passion. Be sure to admire the beauty in the labels—woodcut prints created by Scott and a work of art in themselves.

Stop by their tasting room in Windsor for a visit, enjoy a flight of ciders, and be sure to bring a few bottles home to savor during the holidays and over time.

Devoto Orchards is a 20-acre diversified family farm that was founded in 1976 by Susan and Stan Devoto. It’s interesting that Devoto is the largest cidery in California that uses exclusively California-grown certified organic apples. For their ciders, they grow nearly 100 varieties of heirloom and cider apples for their farmstead blends.

Located in the Sebastopol hills, the orchard is in one of the most beautiful spots within Sonoma County—between the Green Valley, Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast growing appellations, which are famous for producing world-class Pinot Noir winegrapes as well as heirloom apples.
The Devoto family’s commitment to integrity and stewardship of apple trees holds true in every bottle of Devoto Orchards Cider. All of their ciders are made from estate-grown apples.

Both Tilted Shed Ciderworks and Devoto Orchards Cider approach production as an art, as they only ferment ciders when apples are at the peak of their season and fresh off the tree. These small-batch producers offer an elegant, refreshing beverage that is extremely versatile when paired with food.

Below you will find suggestions for cider and cheese pairings, an apple compote plus cider fondue, too. Cheers to the continued success of Sonoma County ciders.

Devoto Orchards 1976 Cider  
Served with Weirauch Farm and Creamery Peau de Peche, a raw milk cheese that is aged 3 months. It is semi-soft with a wash rind and a complex sweet essence.
Served with Gravenstein Apple Compote

Devoto Orchards Save the Gravenstein cider
Served with Weirauch Farm and Creamery Tomme Fraiche, a pasteurized cow milk cheese that is aged for 2 weeks. It is semi-soft and elegant with a tangy finish.

Tilted Shed Ciderworks January Barbecue Smoked Cider
Paired with Weirauch Farm and Creamery Mi Ewe, a cow and sheep milk blended cheese, aged three months, with rich and robust earthy flavors.

Tilted Shed Ciderworks Graviva!
Paired with Weirauch Farm and Creamery Saint Rose, a sheep milk cheese, aged 3-6 months, filled with sweet, nutty and floral flavors.

Apple Compote
1 cup fresh apples, grated
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Simmer ingredients in a heavy-bottom pot, over low heat for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to blend and caramelize.  Enjoy with a fine cheese and cider, or over a bowl of ice cream!

Apple Cider Fondue
Yields 1-1/2 cups fondue
1/2 cup apple cider
1 cup grated Weirauch Farm and Creamery Tomme Fraiche, grated
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and white pepper to taste

In a small saucepan over low flame, bring cider to a boil. In a small bowl, combine, cheese, cornstarch, thyme, salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese mixture into cider and whisk until smooth. Serve warm with fresh baguettes, apple slices and walnuts. Enjoy with a glass of Sonoma County cider. SD