Aptos and Monterey
Fresh goat cheeses, aged goat cheeses, mixed milk aged cow/goat cheeses, mixed milk cow/goat blooming rind cheeses
The Nicolau Family has been dairy farming in Stanislaus County since the early 1900s when Jose Nicolau left the small island of Flores in the Azores to seek a better life. He brought a passion for family, farming, and food, as did all Portuguese immigrants. Eventually, Jose Nicolau would establish his dairy farm in the Westport District just outside the town of Modesto, California, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley.
Over a century later Walter Nicolau III, is still committed to the same values which his great-grandfather brought to this great nation, with Nicolau Farms continuing to focus on our family, tending to our land and livestock, and handcrafting high-quality artisan cheese for families, friends, and followers presently and for generations to come.
Nicolau Farms Fresh Chevré
According to Elizabeth Nicolau, “Farmstead cheese making is a delicate and sometimes challenging balance of science and art. Having a passion and love for what you do will definitely be reflected in the end product. You first must begin with the highest quality milk, which we are definitely very proud of at Nicolau Farms. Our milk is never altered or standardized, but vat pasteurized in small 50 gallon batches only being mildly heated to a 145°F. This older method of pasteurization suffices the legality of the process, yet does not impart a cooked flavor on the milk, and more importantly does not destroy the beneficial components for cheese making. Our fresh cheese begins with this pasteurized milk and then is cultured for 24 hours, allowing the lactic acid to work hard to producing some of the finest, creamiest, fluffiest chevré you may ever enjoy. Next, the curds are delicately hand ladled into cheese cloths where the curds are left to drain for another 24 hours. At this point, the cheese is gently blended with less than 1% sea salt, as well as other high-quality ingredients depending on the desired flavor. After packaging, our fresh cheeses are immediately refrigerated to 38°F and prepared for shipping.When you enjoy Nicolau Farms chevré, you can be confident that you are enjoying the freshest and highest quality goat cheese available.”
“As with the fresh cheese, aged cheeses also begin with the same pasteurization process. At this point, the cheese maker decides what kind of aged cheese will be masterfully created and the artful process begins. The different cultures and rennet we add at the beginning of the process determines the final outcome of the finished product. For example, different cultures contain different beneficial bacteria which affect taste, texture, and overall appearance. The rennet (coagulant) also is very important. Depending on the cheese, the cheese maker will use either a microbial vegan rennet, or natural goat rennet. During this process as well as the aging process, each one of Nicolau Farms cheeses is skillfully and delicately handled and cared for on a daily basis. After the cheese has been matured to the optimal point, each are hand selected for our customers to enjoy all of the efforts and hard work that Nicolau Farms puts into every ounce of cheese made on our farm.
“Two of my passions in life are food and agriculture,” says Walter Nicolau III, a Stanislaus County agricultural entrepreneur who is cooking up a tasty recipe for success. “We turn grass into milk into cheese into happiness,” says the artisanal cheese maker who produces a tasty variety of specialty goat and blended milk cheeses at his family farm just south of Modesto. “We make about a dozen cheeses. Different processes. Different ages. Different molds. During our peak season, we produce around 4,000 pounds of cheese per month.”
If you’re looking for farm-fresh flavor, you won’t be disappointed. “Freshness plays a role in quality. The milk’s processed on a daily basis. My focus is 100-percent on quality from start to finish.”
Some key ingredients? State-of-the-art sanitation, imagination, determination, and tradition. “Success in this business is creating a pleasurable experience for the customer, seeing people savor and enjoy our product, and go goo-goo-gah-gah over a beautiful cheese board.” — Stanislaus Magazine 2014.
Always having a passion for good food and traditional agriculture, Walter Nicolau III was able to pair these together with a rich family history and culture to create Nicolau Farms. Walter and his wife Elizabeth have been tending to their top quality livestock and creating delectable hand-crafted artisan cheeses since 2000. At Nicolau Farms, quality is always top priority.
California State Fair 2016