Smile and Say……”S” is for Sonoma Jack



Based on a reader’s suggestion, I’m returning to a domestic cheese.

“S” is for SONOMA JACK

Sonoma Jack with habanero - Photo from Vella Cheese Company
Sonoma Jack with habanero – Photo from Vella Cheese Company


Today, there are several varieties of Monterey Jack cheese made in California, but the superior versions are produced by certain cheesemakers.

The Vella Cheese Company, a Sonoma-based company making cheese since 1931, produces a Jack cheese that’s rubbed with a mixture of oil, pepper and unsweetened cocoa to give its signature brown rind. The rind protects the cheese but doesn’t have any effect on the flavor. Original Monterey Jack is the most popular variety of Jack cheese, but the same creaminess and texture can be found in Jacks flavored with jalapeños, rosemary, habañero chilies and garlic.

Dry Jack is made like fresh Monterey Jack, then aged for another seven to ten months. The texture is firm, dry and becomes increasingly brittle with age. The flavors of Jack cheese may range from mild and mellow in high moisture Jacks to spicy, delicate and buttery in peppered versions. Dry Jack tends to produce a distinct sweet, mushroom and earthy flavor. Jack cheeses pair excellently with Pinot Noir, Rose, Shiraz, Zinfandel or Riesling.

6 thoughts on “Smile and Say……”S” is for Sonoma Jack

  1. Speaking of locally produced cheese, we can buy New York 5X Sharp Cheddar here year round at a local farm market. I think it is typically aged for 3-1/2 years or more. They will cut off whatever amount you want from a 10 pound wheel. It is much drier, more crumbly, and tastes saltier than your typical Sharp Cheddar. Yum! I will often go out of my way to purchase locally produced products, including bread, cheese, organic fruit and vegetables, honey, and wine. Nothing wrong with buying high quality european cheese and wine though.


    1. Love Gouda, but just found out that I was pronouncing it incorrectly. Someone in Switzerland offered me some ‘hoodah’ and I had no idea what they were talking about. Thought maybe it was something illegal to smoke, lol.


  2. Domestic? This made me stop and think about what I buy. Other than a nice domestic goat cheese I have found, most of what I buy is imported. Switzerland and Italy are in my fridge right now.


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