About Us

Our Mission

Celebrating the quality and diversity of artisan cheeses produced in California through partnerships, outreach and education.


We credit Clark Wolf, a renowned food consultant and former Bay Area cheese professional, with developing the original idea for a California cheesemaker’s guild. He realized there needed to be an organization that represented the plethora of cheesemakers across the state.  It was 2006 when he reserved a URL (cacheeseguild.org) and gathered the forces of several local visionaries including Jennifer Bice, Jill Basch, Lynne Devereux, Juliana Uruburu and Laura Martinez. The group created bylaws, a website, and started soliciting memberships. Non-profit status came in 2008. John Mackey provided enormous support as a pro bono attorney. Maureen Cunnie provided enormous support in getting cheesemaker education off the ground in partnership with College of Marin.

As we celebrate more than a decade of service to California’s artisan cheese community, our Guild has blossomed into the foremost cheese organization in the State. Our hundreds of members represent the breadth of California from northern coastal counties to the southern border, from the Central Coast to the San Joaquin Valley. We form a collaborative community of makers, mongers, distributors, food writers, and food safety experts. Our cheeses are sold across the State and beyond. We host and participate in dozens of events and educational forums each year.

Valerie Miller

Executive Director

Valerie Miller

After a 30 year accounting career, Valerie Miller left her position as the C.F.O. for a Non-Profit to become Co-Founder and Cheesemaker for Orland Farmstead Creamery. Valerie taught herself how to make cheese in her home when her daughter’s 4H goat project was producing more milk than her family could consume. Eventually she began teaching home cheesemaking classes through the local recreation department. During this time, a dairyman from a nearby town contacted her about teaching him to make cheese. He had built a cheese plant on his dairy and needed help getting his company up and running. Four months later they formed their partnership and Orland Farmstead Creamery was born. Due to unforeseen circumstance, the dairy and cheese company were closed in 2020. Valerie has been a member of the California Artisan Cheese Guild for many years, and is excited to now serve as the Executive Director.

2023 Board of Directors


Sarah Henrix


Sarah Hendrix

Sarah Hendrix is the chef behind Los Angeles cheese shop and cheese board delivery service, Lady & Larder, which she founded together with her twin sister, Boo Simms in 2016. Sarah was raised with the notion that the dinner table was a sacred place and today, maintains that the only thing bigger than her love of food is her love of sharing it with others. Over the past 15+ years she has developed a profound respect for American-made, seasonal ingredients and a deep appreciation for the role beautiful food plays in creating moments for people to connect and enjoy time together. Lady & Larder has become the go-to for Southern Californians looking to celebrate and entertain with their artistry and memorable cheese, cured meat and crudité displays. Their brick and mortar shop is located in West Los Angeles.

Candace Allen

Vice President

Candace Allen

Born in Phoenix, raised in the Wasatch Mountains of northern UT, and currently residing in Southern California for the last 20+ years, Candace has had a love affair with cheese her whole life. While going to school for sound engineering, her life changed when she was put in charge of the cheese section of a local store and her budding cheese career began. Currently she works for Beehive Cheese heading up their California sales. On her off time she enjoys surfing her local break, hiking and traveling with her husband and dog.

Karen Sims


Karen Sims

My name is Karen Sims, I am an ACS Certified Cheese Professional®. My career has spanned over 30 years in distribution and the retail industry. I currently work for Tony’s Fine Foods, located in West Sacramento as an Inside Category Specialists, focusing on Cheese and Specialty items. I grew up in Marin county where I spent most of my life until taking my role with Tony’s over 14 years ago. My passion for cheese developed early in my career and has led me down an amazing path that I continue to grow and enjoy every day.
Raymond Rumiano


Raymond Rumiano

I’m Ray Rumiano, a 4th generation co-owner of Rumiano Cheese Company and General Manager of Board at Home. At age 15, I began working summers at our Willows facility, through high school. In 2012, after some college and traveling, I began working full time at Rumiano Cheese in Willows. Operations were my focus, leading me to become Production Manager. After transitioning out of the hustle and bustle of operations, I spent time focusing on affinage and learning the artistry of cheesemaking. In March 2020, I took on management of Rumiano Cheese’s Board at Home project. I live in Chico, California, and enjoy house projects, rock climbing, and spending time with my wife and dogs.

Caroline DiGiusto

Caroline DiGiustoCaroline DiGiusto, bio coming soon!

Kelley Levin, Communications Manager for sister brands Marin French Cheese Co., Laura Chenel, and St. Benoit Creamery

Kelley Levin,Kelley is the Marketing Communications Manager for sister brands Marin French Cheese Co., Laura Chenel, and St. Benoit Creamery. She has been in the food and hospitality industry for about 10 years and has been involved in the cheese community for much of that time. She has traveled both domestically and internationally, visiting dairies, cheesemakers, and specialty shops across borders. In her consumer-facing role she gets to share her passion for artisan cheese and dairy through digital and print outlets, in-person events, and community outreach. She is a Northern California native who loves bringing people together over good food and drinks.

Jane Lyon-Holt, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

Jane Lyon-HoltAgriculture degree in hand Jane pondered the question; how do I combine my love of all thing’s food with my passion for agriculture? The answer was and always will be CHEESE! After graduation Jane sought to immerse herself in cheese. From that time on, she was introduced not only the world of bloomy rinds, cheese wires and affinage but also to the most amazing community of people, the California Cheese peopleand her cheese life exploded! She first dipped her toes into the proverbial fondue pot back in 2011 as the first intern at the Cheese School of San Francisco. She then hopped over to Maui for some time on a goat dairy. Upon returning to Oakland, CA she landed a job as a cheese monger (and eventual cheese department manager) at Market Hall Foods. Five years at Market Hall were spent filling her brain and belly with all things cheese! Days passed quickly behind the counter where she shared tasty morsels with customers and regale them with the stories behind the cheese. The cheese counter is where she first learned about Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company (PRFC) and their story. From then on, she was hooked, even using Toma on stage to introduce herself at the 2015 Cheese Monger Invitational! She yearned to work for a dairy and creamery and have her own part in the cheeses’ story. In 2017 she joined the PRFC team, where she has been fortunate to help with sales, lead farm tours and tastings, serve as part of the quality assurance team, logistics and operations and is now the Direct-to-Consumer manager. Jane and her husband live in Petaluma and are part owners of Civilization Brewery in Santa Rosa. To this day Jane’s favorite thing about cheese, is swapping tasty tidbits, finding a perfect pairing with a California wine or beer and sharing the stories and histories of California’s rich cheese tradition.

Eric Patterson, Marin French Cheese

Eric Patterson Eric Patterson’s passion for great food, organic farming and dairy led him to a career in cheesemaking, first at Cowgirl Creamery and now at Marin French Cheese.

His career in food production began as a small organic vegetable farmer. Growing organic vegetables taught Eric many lessons that he has applied in cheesemaking. A community to help spread expertise and knowledge has been a critical component of each step in his journey. The community around organic and sustainable agriculture really taught him how big an impact changing our food systems can have on the environment we live in, the people who grow the food and the society in nourishes.

Eric’s 20-year career at Cowgirl Creamery gave him the opportunity to grow with the company and have a part in many facets of cheesemaking: fixing boilers, working with dairy farmers, mentoring great people and making lots of cheese of course. As part of Cowgirl, he has been active in supporting education for cheesemakers for over 20 years. Cowgirl helped establish the College of Marin program that helped cheesemakers, cheesemongers and cheese enthusiasts broaden their knowledge. The courses were taught in English and Spanish and included everything from sanitation to flavor analysis.

Recently moving to Marin French Cheese has given Eric the opportunity to keep building and expanding the community of cheesemakers that has helped so much in his career path.

Christina Strategos, Nugget Markets

Christina StrategosChristina Strategos, aka Swisstina, has worked with Nugget Markets, a local and family owned grocery store for fifteen years. The last eight years have been spent in the best department ever, the cheese department. Christina has successfully managed many of the Nugget Market cheese departments but her most recent accomplishment was being in charge of the grand opening of our newest Nugget Market which opened up less than two years ago. Not only has she had the privilege of managing many cheese departments, she has also had the pleasure of training and teaching new Cheese Mongers which have also gone on to managing their own shops. She has fallen in love with not only cheese, but the cheese community. One of the favorite parts of her ‘job’ is sharing cheese with people through samples, cheese boards and cheese jokes. She love being able to interact with people of all walks of life while sharing the joy of cheese together. Another aspect of being a Cheese Monger that Christina loves is taking care of the cheese and making sure it gets taken to a good home in good condition. Every day she is inspired by all of these beautiful cheeses, their story and the cheese maker’s story. She loves to challenge herself and can ofter be found competing at the Cheese Monger Invitational and the Best Bite Competition at the California Artisan Cheese Festival. Being a part of our cheese community is important to her and something she aspires to do more of. When able to she loves to pick up other jobs to help out cheese makers. She have helped cheese companies at the Fancy Food Show, the Tonys Specialty Show and even at the Cheese Monger Invitational. She strives to learn and network as much as she can. She is passionate about what she does and is always looking for ways to grow as an ambassador for cheese.

Marlene Velasquez, Rumiano Cheese Company

Marlene VelasquezMarlene Velasquez is the Human Resources & Health & Safety Manager at Rumiano Cheese Company, the oldest family-owned cheese company in California. Rumiano Cheese was the first plant on the West Coast to produce organic cheese at scale.
Previously, Marlene was employed at Andersen & Sons Shelling as a health and safety manager for nearly three years. She oversaw health and safety for the shelling and hulling operations, of almond and walnut production. She implemented training through policy and procedure, leading to safer practices and lowered worker’s compensation rates, while building relationships.

Marlene graduated from Maxwell High School in 2008. She later joined the food processing industry and worked her way into management at a young age. She volunteers in the community with events, sports and FFA contest judging.

Marlene was born and raised in Maxwell. Her father, Rafael, a heavy equipment operations foreman, instilled his love of agriculture in his children. Marlene continues to reside in Maxwell with her children, Levi, 13, and Liv, 5. They keep her busy with sports, dance, 4-H and snack bar duty.

Brandon Wood, The Cheese Parlor, Livermore

Brandon WoodBrandon Wood worked at Whole Foods Market from 2009 to 2022, ten of those years spent behind a cheese counter. He has written, traveled, studied, read, grown, and developed in and for cheese. From Cheese Camp, to multiple CMI’s to getting his CCP certificate in 2016, and tons in between. On February 11th, 2022 Brandon opened his own cheese shop in Livermore, CA called the Cheese Parlor. Cheese is literally now his life!
Bear on wheel of cheese logo icon


Our Mission is celebrating the quality and diversity of artisan cheese produced in California through partnerships, outreach and education.

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Contact Us

P.O. Box 1052
Durham, CA 95938

(707) 238-2402

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