Tumalo Farms’ Fenacho Man – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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Tumalo Farms’ Fenacho Man

Tumalo Farms, Oregon

Tumalo Farms, Oregon

We’re all in Bend, Oregon this week, The lady and The Man brought me along with the rise… in my case it is the destination and not the journey… I hate riding in cars. Today, The Lady along with her “Cheese Friend”, Doug, headed north to Tumalo Farms for a tour from the Fenacho Man himself, Flavio DeCastilhos and Kelly Hughes, who handles public relations for the Artisan Cheesemaker.

The Lady sings “cheesy” songs when opening cheese shops, some courtesy of her favorite Cheesemonger, Nathan… despite the fact that he attended Alabama… roll tide… but I digress… one of her original songs is based on the Village People’s Macho Man… a song she sings every time she works with Tumalo Farms’ Fenacho cheese… Fenacho, Fenacho Man…

Flavio spent two decades in the Silicon Valley where he co-founded WebMD. In 2004, he left the fast-lane behind and headed north to Bend with his family where he and his wife built a state-of-the-art dairy farm. Originally he had planned to raise sheep, but finally chose Saanen and French Alpine goats.


Flavio and Kelly greeted the three and began the tour in their office where many awards hang around the picture window looking out at the farm and the cellars. Flavio and his Classico stunned the cheese world in 2007 when his cheese won first place in its class at the American Cheese Society. Since then he has added another couple dozen awards for Classico and his other wonderful cheeses…

The tour included the holding room for the milk from his own herd and milk that he buys from local dairy farmers to supplement his supply and also cow milk for his mixed-milk, Rimrocker.

Flavio vat pasteurizes his milk at 148F for 30 minutes before adding the cultures and animal rennet he uses to make any one of the twelve cheeses made at the farm. Although much more expensive than microbial, Flavio prefers veal rennet because it is consistent and won’t produce off flavor that sometimes come from manufactured rennet.

He explained the process from pasteurizing to separating the curd from the whey, to hooping, pressing and brining to aging in the cellars he built and then preparing for shipment to his customers. He tracks his cheese with “stickers” made of casein placed on the bottom of each wheel. The rind is a breathable material that is also edible; you can even eat the label.


In addition to Whole Foods, Tumalo Farms’ cheeses are shipped to restaurants as far east as Virginia and Manhattan. His cheeses are also sold by Cowgirl Creamery in California.

IMG_20130722_151931_236There was no cheesemaking today but his latest “jewel”, a soft, surface ripened cheese, appropriately named Jewell was drying in the brine room. In about a week, it will be ready to ship..

After the tour of the pristine make facility, the trio of cheese swells were treated to a visit with the goats and lambs. One tried to eat The Lady’s shirt and Doug fell in love with one of the lambs… better check the trunk…

IMG_20130722_153440_876After hanging with the goats, they walked a few hundred feet up the hill through the desert farm that had once been a pumice mine. There they were treated to the racks of aging wheels of Classico, Pondhopper, Fenacho and Rimrocker – what a gorgeous site…


As the duo drove away, The Lady could swear she heard Flavio whistling “Fenacho, Fenacho Man”…

Now for a final note to Doug… listen up “Cheese Friend”… while you may own her heart when opening cheese shops… I am the Love of Her Life… behind The Man, of course… Capisce???




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