[Video] Family Travel: A trip to a cheese cave in Baja
As our car rounded the curvy, dusty road just east of Ensenada, and towards Ojos Negros, the kids ran through their rounds of “I spy” in the back seat, pointing out every animal or huge truck we drove past. The valley of Ojos Negros, or “black eyes” is known for housing various wells, that not only keep all of the local agriculture, and ranches flourishing, but they also water the vines that supply some of the grapes for boutique wineries in Valle de Guadalupe.
On the last stretch of dirt road, signs led us towards Ojos Negros. As soon as we made the final left turn, we were greeted by expansive green fields, and cows roaming freely behind the fences on Rancho La Campana. Here it was, in all of its glory, La Cava de Marcelo. It’s crazy to think that Latin America’s only cheese cave that’s open to the public is just a couple hours away from home.
We walked towards the entrance, and the littles immediately ran towards the red wooden play set and swings. We took a seat at the nearby picnic tables under the shaded canopy of trees and ordered up a couple of glasses of their crisp house white wine. A more than welcomed summer breeze ran through the trees, which was so ideal for the high temperatures we have been experiencing in the region. After a glance at the menu, we knew that we had to order a few things, and share everything family style. Out came cured sardines, oysters topped with melty Ramonetti cheese, and a big bowl of Linguine and quesadillas for the little ones.
It was time to take a tour of the property and learn all about the process behind the dairy products made on Rancho La Campana. With the littles in tow, we walked towards the cows, and while none of them were currently milking, we were informed that they come in twice a day to produce milk for the farm. Camila’s highlight, minus the ice cream tasting to follow, was what came next. We headed into the barn that houses all of the baby cows just under three months old. Camila made sure to pet as many as she could, while they tried to lick her little arms. We had to drag her out of there, but knowing that a little tasting of ice cream came next, definitely helped out. We enjoyed tiny cones of Butterfinger studded ice cream, and then made our way back to the grassy area, before ducking into the famed cheese cave.
Straight through a gorgeous wooden door on a stark white building, you will find walls lined with photos from the farm in the beginning, and generations of those that were here from the start. Giovanni absolutely lives for facts, he was so in awe of all the “old” photos, and history before his eyes. We headed down the stairs that led us to a gorgeous sight. Hello, windows lined with rows and rows of cheese wheels. Following closely behind, we met up with the fourth generation of cheesemakers, and owner of the farm, Marcelo Castro. We grabbed a seat at the table and were each presented with a plate filled with their seven types of cheeses, a slice of baguette half smeared with butter, and the other side ricotta, a glass of red wine for the adults, and a lemonade for the kids.
He informed us that since 1911, they have been making cheese on this farm, which was originally bought by his Swiss- Italian immigrant relative. It really is such a neat experience as a family, to enjoy all of the wonderful dairy products that they have to offer, and being directly from the source cannot be beat.
La Cava de Marcelo