There are some people with great energy, and then once in a while, you meet a person with GREAT ENERGY. Sacha Laurin, cheesemaker at Winters Cheese Co. in Winters, CA, and cheese educator at Many Moons Cheese, is one of those people. We planned a weekend together that was going to be mainly for fun, but after I got home, I thought, “I need to write about this,” to show off what amazingly talented folks occupy the artisanal cheese world!
We met up with Sacha and her son James at Preserve, a bar in the lush, quaint downtown area of Winters, California. Preserve is already an extraordinary place to relax, with its heated patio, bubbling fountain, and Restoration Hardware aesthetic. However, what made me giddy is the cheese aging room tucked away toward the rear of the bar, with large windows so you can see the cheese tucked away on their spruce shelves. Sacha told us to come to this place before the end of the year because the company is moving into a new space, so here we were!
It turns out that we were in for a packed day—we visited the aging room, then sauntered off down the road to Turkovich Family Wines to taste some of the wines, and all of Winters Cheese Co. cheeses. Then, in true Indiana Jones style, we headed off to Cold Canyon to search for some creamery ruins that Sacha had read about, but not before doing a mini beer/cheese pairing at Berryessa Brewing Company.
On the way back to Sacha’s place, we stopped by her friends’ farm, where we fed about five 2-week old lambs their dinner. So cuddly! Dinner at home consisted of a three-course cheese meal: a cheese plate, a caprese salad with mozzarella we made that evening, and then a small dessert of chocolate/cheese-stuffed burrata that we also made. To wash it all down, Sacha opened a bottle of kombucha, another of her creations. Oh yeah, and we managed to squeeze in a visit to my sister’s house because—guess what?—Sacha’s husband and my sister have worked together at the local hospital. The world only grows smaller with time!
We had a VERY full day, but Sacha was just so excited at every step of the way. Her boundless, overwhelmingly positive energy was invigorating and refreshing. It was clear that this is a woman who embraces life and coaxes beauty from whatever she touches. Mr. Cheesemonger and I could sense that in her cheeses, in her carefree laugh as she cuddled with lambs, and in the warm glow of her kitchen.
And just like that, the weekend was over. We pulled out of Sacha’s driveway on Sunday morning with some cheese to take home and age, cultures to try making more cheese, a kombucha baby to cultivate, and promises to see each other again soon! If you have the chance to take a class with her, or have some of her cheeses, definitely jump at the opportunity. She knows her craft inside and out! On top of that, if her radiant energy doesn’t win you over, nothing will.
Thank you, Sacha, for everything! You are an inspiration for cheesemaking and for living!
P.S.: If you’re looking for Winters Cheese Co. cheeses, I would highly recommend either their Caerphilly or their Festivus, a holiday-inspired, spice-rubbed gouda.