Great Taste, No Waste, Saint Benoit Creamery

Doing things right

We have always been located in Sonoma, but initially were unable to produce the yogurt on the farm which meant we had to haul the milk a short distance to make the yogurt. In July of 2008, we began transforming an old milking parlor on the Mattos farm into our new creamery. With a little help from people like Whole Foods and John Mattos (dairy partner) who believed in us, some ingenuity, many months of planning and forethought, our seeds have grown into a thriving and sustainable creamery. Uncle Bill helped bring the project to fruition, making sure the creamery reflected our mission and philosophy of respecting the land and food shed we cherish. He helped us design a system that reuses water from yogurt production for irrigation and reduces energy costs. He repurposed old materials from building sites such as doors and windows that he hand fitted into the existing building. Together we chose a new type of wall covering that is not only state of the art, it also just happens to be made from recycled plastic milk bottles. We kept the old cement walls that conserve the cool air, which will help us save energy when we install our new walk-in cooler. And best yet, the milk is right there… the girls are creating it from those lush organic pastures beneath our very eyes, every day, right outside the new-old windows of our new-old creamery.

The Four Seasons

The cows’ milk naturally varies according to the season. For example, at some points of the year the cows’ milk contains more carotene and therefore the cream layer is a buttery yellow color. At other times of the year, the cream is whiter. Because the lovely ladies are pasture-fed, this greatly affects their milk. In the hot summer months, the girls get quite thirsty and drink more. This means their milk may also contain more water and make the yogurt slightly thinner. January also brings this about, but it’s because the grass in the fields is so rich, green, and waterlogged that they get more water from the grass itself. The same processes can affect the cream content. Because we do not remove the fat and re-inject it into the yogurt (as most companies do) and do not add milk powder to thicken it, our yogurt has a seasonal quality to it. Two benefits are that you have a product that is closer to the original state of the ingredient, and that delightful new mixtures occur. For example, when the milk contains more water and the bees are buzzing away in heavy-pollen season, all the factors align to give a whole new twist to our honey yogurt. The milk flavor is slightly less prominent, the rich honey comes through even more, and you can even find a slight dusting of pollen on the cream layer!