The Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese family wanted a meaningful title for their first-ever soft-ripened cheese. Eventually, they decided on Quinta—translating to “fifth” from Spanish and “farmstead” from Portuguese—to carry the legacies of both their Portuguese ancestors and Latinx staff, while celebrating the fifth-product milestone in their core lineup. And since its release late last year, this cheese has been living up to its nominative hype. “Quinta is definitely making a name for herself!” says co-owner Jill Giacomini Basch.
Inspired by soft-ripened successes like Jasper Hill Farm’s Harbison and Uplands Cheese’s Rush Creek Reserve, the Point Reyes team had considered adding a similar wheel to their lineup for years. “Because of the shorter aging of this style—compared to the other cheeses we produce—it’s a variety we thought would really showcase the flavor of our farm,” Basch says. “It’s what was missing from our product line, and truthfully, it’s a style we all especially love to eat!”
Originally, the new cheese was meant to be similar to Reblochon: a semi-soft, washed-rind cheese from the Alps. But head cheesemaker Kuba Hemmerling turned to its now-iconic bark strap rind while looking for a sustainable way to keep the wheels from spreading during production. And that change became a key marker of the wheel’s identity. “What makes Quinta unique and representative of our region is that we steep the bark straps in bay laurel leaves that we harvest on the farm,” Basch says. “The essence of the bay infuses the bark and adds an herbaceousness to the aroma and flavor of the cheese, especially near the rind.”
The result is a spoonable, savory cheese with a distinct flavor that reflects the terroir of Northern California. It’s also a treat to look at, with dried bay leaves decorating both the top and bottom of the four-inch wheel, mirroring the earthiness that awaits underneath. Basch recommends enjoying Quinta between 30 and 75 days after production—the more mature it is, the softer the interior becomes.