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Our Goat Milk’s Journey, from farm to you.

Written by Sharon Bice on . Posted in Life on the Farm

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Redwood Hill Farm has been a family farm for over 45 years. It began in 1968 when our parents, Cynthia and Kenneth Bice (with then seven kids), moved from Los Angeles to Sonoma County and bought their very first goat named “Flopsy”. As a family and later under the leadership of oldest sister, Jennifer Bice, we have been making our cultured yogurt, kefir and artisan cheese for our goat milk loving customers since the early 1970’s. We invite you on a journey to follow our fresh goat milk as it travels from our Certified Humane® goat farm in Sebastopol, CA, to your neighborhood store.

The journey starts at dawn…

Our milking does headed into the parlor

Scott Bice guides the Redwood Hill Farm herd head into the milking parlor where it all begins. Dairy goats are milked twice a day, at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. An average milking goat will give 2,000 lbs. of milk in a year. Our top performing dairy goats, which are nationwide leaders in milk production, may give up to two tons of milk annually!

Redwood Hill Farm Manager Scott Bice with a Saanen milk doe.

Our dairy does look forward to milking time. They are very social animals, and Farm Manager Scott Bice not only knows them by name but also is also quite aware of their different personalities. Aside from getting a pat from the herdsman, milking time is when the does enjoy their custom milled, protein-rich grain mix, which makes up about 25% of their diet; the remaining 75% consists of fresh forages, brush and hay.

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We raise four different breeds of dairy goats on our farm, who in turn give us the best-tasting milk for our probiotic yogurt, kefir and artisan cheeses. Pictured here are Saanen dairy goats, a breed that originated in Switzerland. Compared to cow milk, goat milk contains higher levels of calcium, vitamin A, potassium and niacin.

Milking machines transport the fresh, raw goat milk through filters into our milk parlor’s holding tank, where it is immediately chilled and held at 38 to 40 degrees. Notice the “cream clouds” at the top. Goat milk, unlike cow milk, is “naturally homogenized,” which means that most of the fat globules are evenly dispersed throughout the milk.

Delivering the farm-fresh, raw goat milk to our creamery

David Bice filling the milk tanker

Throughout the week, our fresh milk is transported to Redwood Hill Farm Creamery, located only four miles from the farm. Here, family member David Bice fills milk into the tanker for another load.

Our milk tanker on the road

Enjoying the rural countryside of beautiful West Sonoma County is a perk for employees doing this farm chore.

Taking a milk sample in the receiving bay at Redwood Hill Farm

In the receiving bay at our creamery, Alfredo Monter-Jacinto takes samples of the milk for quality testing. Because we make quite a bit of yogurt, kefir and cheese, we also receive milk from six additional Certified Humane® goat dairy farms.

Our passion: making specialty goat milk yogurt, kefir and cheese

Redwood Hill Farm owner and cheesemaker stirring feta curds

In addition to yogurt and kefir, we make an assortment of handmade, artisan cheeses. We use raw goat milk to make Redwood Hill Farm’s gold medal-winning Raw Goat Milk Feta. Here, Owner and Cheesemaker, Jennifer Lynn Bice, and her cheese team stir the curds.  Feta curds are then packed by hand into molds, brined in a natural sea salt solution, and aged from six months to a year—just as traditional feta has been made for centuries.

Redwood Hill Farm California Crottin

Depending on the style of cheese, our 3 to 5 ounce artisan rind-ripened or ‘soft-ripened’ cheeses are aged for about 14 days in cave-like, temperature- and humidity-controlled aging rooms. At just the right age, slightly before ripeness and flavor reach their optimum, the cheeses are wrapped and packed by hand and then sold to stores up and down the West Coast. By the time the cheese has made its journey and has reached our customers, the flavor should be fully developed.

Adding cultures to our pasteruized goat milk to make yogurt.

By law in the United states, milk to make yogurt and kefir must be pasteurized, but there are different methods. We use the vat-pasteurization method, the gentlest for retaining a higher percentage of the milk’s natural enzymes. After pasteurization, specific cultures are added to the goat milk depending on whether we are making yogurt or kefir and depending on our production schedule for that day.

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After the yogurt or kefir containers are filled with the warm cultured milk and sealed, they are stacked and delivered to our creamery’s hot room for fermentation. At this stage the liquid milk thickens or “sets” as the beneficial bacteria cultures rapidly multiply.

Delivering freshly packed yogurt quarts to our creamery hot room for culturing.

After 4-6 hours, and at just the right pH level, the yogurt or kefir is moved into the chilling room. This important step holds the pH at just the right level and stabilizes the delicate texture.

Distributor truck picking up Redwood Hill Farm yogurt and kefir

Our carefully packed cheese, yogurt or kefir is picked up by our distributors and delivered to natural and specialty food stores, cooperatives, as well as many natural food sections of conventional grocery stores in your area.

Our goat milk yogurt and kefir is available nationwide at coops and natural, specialty food markets.

Everything we make is crafted with 100% Grade A whole goat milk.  Fresh milk is the key to making the best-tasting goat milk yogurt, kefir and cheese. Thank you for joining us on our milk’s journey from our farm to your fridge!

Jennifer Bice named 2014 Leadership in Agriculture Award Winner

Written by Sharon Bice on . Posted in Company News, In the News

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Jennifer will be honored at the 42nd Annual Ag-BBQ

We’re so happy to share that the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce recently announced Redwood Hill Farm owner and CEO Jennifer Bice will receive the Leadership in Agriculture award at this year’s Agri-Business BBQ on July 29th! The 42nd Annual Agri-Business BBQ honoring the diverse and pivotal role of the agriculture community in shaping the quality of life here in Sonoma County, will take place at Shone Farm, Santa Rosa Junior College’s 365-acre outdoor learning laboratory. Select HERE for more details on the awards event in July.

Jennifer began showing and learning about dairy goats as a young Sonoma County 4H member

Jennifer began showing and learning about dairy goats as Sonoma County 4-H member

In 1978, Jennifer Lynn Bice assumed ownership of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Inc., the family farm and Grade A goat dairy the Bice family started in Sonoma County in 1968, and never looked back. Along with her late husband, Steven Schack, Jennifer expanded the business to produce a greater variety of goat milk products, and diversified the dairy goat-breeding program.

Today Redwood Hill Farm is owned and operated by Jennifer, along with five of her siblings that worked to establish Redwood Hill Farm in the 1960’s.  In addition, more than 50 dedicated employees now run the day-to-day operations at the Certified Humane® farm and state-of-the-art organic creamery in Sebastopol. Promoting the benefits of goat milk products and developing a genetics program of excellence for the Redwood Hill Farm herd remain her top priorities, and this commitment has positioned Redwood Hill Farm at the forefront of the dairy goat industry.

Redwood Hill Farm Goat Yogurt is Cream of the Crop

Written by Sharon Bice on . Posted in Company News

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Real Simple Magazine editors name Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt winner in its national Yogurt Road Test

The choice of yogurts can be overwhelming for consumers, so the editors of Real Simple Magazine took it upon themselves to find the “cream of the crop.” In the “Traditional” category, Redwood Hill Farm was named head of the herd as “Best Goat
Milk Yogurt.” Its sister brand, Green Valley Organics received “Best Lactose Free Yogurt” honors.

“We are honored and thrilled that the Real Simple editors chose both of our yogurt brands as winners in their yogurt road test,” said Jennifer Bice, owner, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery. “We take great pride in how are products are made and the ingredients we use. All of our products are made at our solar powered, Green Business certified creamery using only the highest quality milk from goats and cows raised on Certified Humane farms. We keep our ingredient list short and, well, simple.”

Read the entire PRESS RELEASE here.

A deeper shade of green at Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery

Written by Sharon Bice on . Posted in Company News

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At Redwood Hill Farm we’re reducers, reusers, recyclers… and composters!

With a bit of time, kitchen scraps, plant clippings, and straw & hay from the barns turns into what we love to call “black gold”! It’s part of our ongoing commitment to the environment of our community, and our constant striving to be as “green” as we possibly can.

This commitment has enabled us to recently receive certification and recognition as a Sonoma County Green Business, and the news on our Green Business Certification was the lead news item in The Press Democrat’s Agriculture Briefs , Sunday December 15.

The Sonoma Green Business Program (www.sonoma-county.org/sonomagreen) is a partnership of government agencies and utilities that assists, recognizes, and promotes local organizations, focusing on small to medium-sized consumer-oriented businesses who voluntarily operate in environmentally responsible ways. Certified participants must be in compliance with all environmental regulations and meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste.  Select here to download more about our new certification.

It’s Golden For Redwood Hill Farm Cheeses: 2013 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Results

Written by Sharon Bice on . Posted in Company News

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Drum roll please…

Official results for the 2013 Sonoma County Harvest Fair are in! We’re thrilled to announce Redwood Hill Farm Artisan Goat Cheeses once again were awarded top honors with Three Peppercorn Chevre AND Raw Milk Feta both taking away DOUBLE GOLD awards!

For over 38 years, attending the Harvest Fair has been a tradition for both local and out of town guests. Wine and food lovers from as far abroad as South America, India and even Australia, plan their visit to Santa Rosa each October, to sample the county’s bounty. This is our local celebration of the best Sonoma County has to offer in food, wine, and beer. To be awarded top honors in a field of amazing food producers is exciting for all of us at the creamery and farm.

American Cheese Society Award for Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery

Written by Redwood Hill on . Posted in Company News

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From award-winning goats comes award-winning goat milk kefir!

California’s Sonoma County has a long tradition of dairying and cheese making. That proud tradition recently honored North Bay cheese producers including Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery who took home awards from the 2013 American Cheese Society’s annual Judging & Competition in early August, with Redwood Hill Farm brought home the top prize in their division for the Redwood Hill Farm Traditional Plain Kefir! This is not the first award for Redwood Hill’s delicious goat milk kefir, click here for a listing of recent awards.

The competition took place in Madison, WI during the annual conference of the American Cheese Society, a not-for-profit organization that encourages the appreciation and promotion of farmstead and specialty cheeses in the U.S. and Canada. Congratulations to all of the winners, and to Madison, WI, for hosting a great American Cheese Society Conference!

For more information about the American Cheese Society, go to cheesesociety.org

Redwood Hill Farm Featured on HGTV Gardens

Written by Redwood Hill on . Posted in In the News

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Buy Local: An Array of Farm Products Are Just a Click Away

From goat milk caramels to herb-infused soap, find out about America’s homespun harvest.

“It’s a locavore age, with many consumers deeply invested in the source and story behind everything from their face cream to their goat’s milk gouda. As food trends shift back to the land, farm-fresh products are gaining more traction. Family-owned farms offer a remedy to faceless corporations, and offer products crafted with consideration and care. From the old-world Italian “pork butter” (aka spallacia) created at Iowa’s La Quercia to the natural beauty products concocted by high-end Rhode Island apothecary Farmaesthetics, it’s a good time to celebrate the homegrown goodness offered up at farms across the country.”

Read the entire article at HGTV Gardens

Elite Runner Lauren Fleshman Chooses Redwood Hill Farm Goat Yogurt

Written by Redwood Hill on . Posted in In the News

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Women’s Running Magazine

“I’m picky about my yogurt. I want it minimally processed, sweetish but low in sugar (and no cheating with fake sugars), high in protein, creamy and not from a giant cow-milking factory (that grosses me out). Goat yogurt is high in calcium, and naturally low in lactose so it doesn’t mess with my stomach.”

~ Elite Runner Lauren Fleshman

Wall Street Journal Features David Bice of Redwood Hill Farm as the “Goat Whisperer”

Written by Redwood Hill on . Posted in In the News

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We Are Sonoma County – The Goat Whisperer

by Heather Irwin

Cult-worthy pinots and locally sourced menus are a given. But it’s the people that give Sonoma County a flavor all its own.

There’s an edgy vibe to its cultural scene and eclectic collection of towns and villages, which is a reflection of the people who call Sonoma County home — the entrepreneurial cast and crew who till the soil, grow the grapes (and milk the goats), have made the region’s award-winning wine and food scene what it is today. As original as Sonoma County itself, they bring to life a quirky sensibility, and an energy that is captivating and contagious.

Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2013 (PDF 1.37MB)