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SAY CHEESE!

Oakdale Cheese Factory built on family tradition

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SAY CHEESE!

Oakdale Cheese employee Yvette Bento displays the various free taste samples of Gouda.

VINCE REMBULAT/The Bulletin


POSTED February 4, 2012 12:16 a.m.

OAKDALE – They traveled near and far to sample or take home some of the finest Gouda or Edam.

The Oakdale Cheese & Specialties Factory can be found at 10040 Highway 120 some 20 miles east of Manteca.

It’s also along the same route that connects Yosemite National Park to the Bay Area.

“People often stop here coming or leaving Yosemite,” said Yvette Bento, who has been employed at Oakdale Cheese for almost a year.

Owned and operated by Dutch immigrants Walter and Lenneke Bulk, the cheese made here is a product of four generations that originated in the Netherlands.

The family – included are sons Jan Dirk (John) and Joost, and daughter Arijaantje (Jane) – moved from Marysville to Escalon before settling in Oakdale in 1995. The facility sits on four acres consisting of the cheese-making factory, store and bakery.

Food and refreshments can be purchased at the store and enjoyed outdoors on the nicely landscaped lawn or one of the dozen picnic tables situated near the two ponds filled with Koi and connected by a rustic bridge.

The other attraction is the farm animals. Included are ducks, geese, sheep, calves, goats, a llama and a retired donkey named ‘Gibi.’

However, the cheese is the main attraction.

At the recent American Cheese Society Conference in Montreal, Oakdale Cheese’s Gouda took second place in the Dutch-style competition, finishing just behind Glengarry Fine Cheese’s Lankaaster Aged.

Samples of the various Goudas are available at the Oakdale Cheese Factory’s front counter.

John Bulk noted that cheese is processed on the facility, for now, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“We just finished Christmas, which is a busy season for us,” he said.

Bulk noted that his cheeses are often featured in the farmer’s market and via Internet sales.

“Most of our distribution is done locally,” he added.

Tour groups of 10 or more can also get a glimpse on the old-fashioned way of cheesemaking.

Reservations must be made in advance. Those attending can learn about the tricks of the trade not to mention some cheesemaking secrets.

Those stopping by the Oakdale Cheese Factory are often curious passersby, cross-country travelers, and cycling enthusiasts.

“I’ve noticed where they’ll park (their cars) in our lot and unload their bikes,” said Bento. “But they come back (after their ride) and will stay for lunch.”

In addition, the Oakdale Cheese Factory has a produce barn shaped like a small barn, selling local fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Meanwhile, Lenneke Bulk is amazed at the people who will stop by her family business as a side trip or destination.

“We have a guest book that’s signed by people from all over the world,” she said. “I really don’t know how they found out about us.”

Doc and Marsha Farmer from Charlottesville, VA, were among the recent visitors as was Randy and Debi Dotson of Oakdale.

The latter summed their visit in one word: “Fun!”

More information on the Oakdale Cheese Factory can be obtained by calling 209-848-3139 or logging on to www.oakdalecheese.com.



— Vince Rembulat
staff reporter

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