Located near to the town of Ojos Negros lies a 100-year-old artisanal cheese cellar, owned and operated by four generations of natural cheese makers. La Cava de Marcelo sits on 60 acres of grassy land of Rancho La Campana in Real de Castillo about 20 miles south of the city of Ensenada. Using only grass and fresh water to feed the 200 or so Holstein cows, this Swiss/Italian family launched their business in 1911 and have been producing their small batches of cheese prosperously ever since.
The drive from Ensenada to Marcelo’s is one not soon forgotten. Huge boulders loom and the lower slopes flanking the valley are covered mainly by chaparral, with the occasional bursts of white and yellow flowers–all composing a stunning view throughout the winding drive.
Once at the farm, you arrive to a see some very healthy and seemingly very happy cows. Walking through the farm with guide, Horacio Perez, it feels like a cheese connoisseur’s paradise.
With birds chirping and cows mooing, Marcelo’s is a beautiful and quite little farm with nothing but a small milking area, a small cheese production room, and a cellar filled with cheese closets aging natural basil, black pepper, and rosemary cheeses from 4 months up to three years. Guests can sample all of the varieties served with wine, mesquite toasted bread, and fig jam.
Many of the staff are trained or in training at various culinary schools in cooking or enology. The wine pairing is sure to fit perfectly with the cheeses and sitting in the cool cellar (built over 100 feet below ground), the experience is something out of another century. You’re quickly transported to some chic European food locale.
Lunch was served under a shady tree. An easy menu of grilled lamb, tuna carpaccio, cured sardines, and a locally made craft beer. Although I can’t help but wonder why more people haven’t discovered this little piece of heaven, I must admit I’m kind of glad they haven’t.