Keeping It Flavorful: All about that cheese

Winters Cheese Co. artisan cheeses are available in the Turkovich Family Wines tasting room on Railroad Avenue. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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As a child of the 80s and 90s, I looked forward to field trips when I was allowed to select a Lunchable to bring as my lunch. It’s no surprise to me that now as an adult I am “all in” for a good charcuterie board.

It doesn’t matter where, if they offer a board full of meats, fruits, veggies, crackers and cheese – I want it – especially if the cheese selection is top notch.

I’m not picky about my cheese. I’m happy with a cheese variety platter from the store, cut cubes from a block or pre-cut slices. Crumble feta or bleu cheese on my salad, shave on the fresh parmesan, sprinkle on the cotija. As long as it’s not processed goop, I’m generally a happy camper.

However, there is something to be appreciated for a delicious, hand-crafted artisan cheese.

And, did you know there is a local business called the Winters Cheese Company?

There is a refrigerated case with their cheeses available in the Turkovich Family Wines tasting room on Railroad Avenue. The menu features quite a selection, along with other locally crafted cheeses from nearby counties.

The Winters Cheese Company Facebook page boasts that Cheesemaker Daniel Turkovich discovered a passion for making artisan cheese through hands-on experience at the Cal Poly Creamery while he was attending college at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo studying winemaking. After graduating, Turkovich returned to Winters to establish the Winters Cheese Company.

It’s perhaps not surprising that I have some favorites that I highly encourage the community to try tasting.

Cheese Pick No. 1: Tinto
The Tinto cheese first caught my attention in 2014 when a photo of a large Tinto cheese wedge was photographed with a bottle of Turkovich’s The Boss. The post noted that Tinto is a “cow/goat mixed milk Basque style cheese — rubbed and aged with The Boss wine.”

I was able to get a taste of it the following year and there was no turning back. It is hands down one of my favorite cheeses.

As a fan of goat cheese to start with, the Tinto cheese is bursting with layers of flavor. There’s a nutty aspect, a salty and savory aspect, and it’s perfectly paired with any wine — in my opinion at least. I’ve had it with the Roussanne, Rosé Sparkling Wine and Tempranillo (my favorite Turkovich wines).

It’s semi-hard — which basically means you can slice it, but it’s crumbly. It pairs well with nuts and fruits, as well as with crisps.

This is certainly one that you must taste for yourself.

Cheese Pick No. 2: Smoked gouda
Gouda is a popular cheese. It’s featured in all kinds of dishes across different eateries. And, the Winters Cheese Co. has crafted a delicious gouda.

Their version is creamy and slices well, but is hardy enough to not buckle and fold against the knife blade. It melts well enough or holds its own on a charcuterie spread.

What I appreciate the most about this smoked gouda is the flavor isn’t overpowering. Some “smoked” cheeses are bold and a little too strong. This one is just enough of the smoked flavor, and it compliments the known gouda flavor.

Winters Cheese Co. also makes a regular gouda — but, in my opinion, smoked gouda is the way to go.

It’s also my 5-year-old’s favorite cheese. Between the two of us, we could easily eat a small wedge of smoked gouda.

It’s helpful that she’s not a fan of the Tinto, so I don’t have to share both cheeses with her when I bring them home.

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