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At a miss for Christmas gift ideas?
Hilmar Cheese has a variety of specialty cheeses and gift packs for the holidays. - photo by Brooke Borba

WHAT: Hilmar Cheese Company

WHERE: Take Lander Avenue exit off of Highway 99 south of Turlock and drive four miles west to Hilmar. Cheese factory is on the right.

MORE INFO: Call 634-1408 or go to

There is nothing cheesy about this holiday present. One of the best and most well-known homemade items in demand this holiday season is, you guessed it, cheese!

As a leader in the cheese trade, the Hilmar Cheese Company is expecting their products to be in great demand again for the holiday seasons.

“It is really crazy busy; especially around Christmas time, but it is a lot of fun,” said Hilmar Cheese retail supervisor and specialty cheese buyer Elisabeth Sawyer.

Hilmar cheese and gourmet items make wonderful local presents for the holiday season because of Hilmar’s central location and attention to detail. Sawyer said their cheese is made right in the plant, and that they also carry California focal cheeses as well to present an artisan, classy feel.

“We have creameries from all over California that we get cheese from. But we also have gourmet cheeses from around the world. We also carry gourmet foods. We like to feature local products in terms of our gourmet foods. In Balsamic vinegar we’ve got sauces, glazes, and jams,” said Sawyer.

Buying locally made items not only supports the regional community, but also makes for unique gifts not found anywhere else. Sawyer believes that food is universal, and a great item to bring family and friends together during festive times.

 “Food is always a good thing to give people for gifts because they could always use food. Everybody eats,” Sawyer said.

Popular items to look out for are gift packs, according to Sawyer, which range from $22.99 to $125.99. These tend to go quickly because of their popularity and convenience. There are also custom-made boxes that you can create, and a variety of gift cards available.

Hilmar’s vintage sharp cheddar is a favorite, said Sawyer, and this year the queso chipotle cheese is selling well. Other favorites are cream cheese and a select pepper jam.

“We are all looking for a quick snack. A great idea is cream cheese and apricot chili pepper jam with crackers. It is simple and really quick, and it is great. The holiday menu is served and there is not a huge headache,” Sawyer said.

Starting Dec. 26-28, and finishing Jan. 2-4, Hilmar Cheese will offer Holiday Ice Cream Making Tours for $3 a person.

“I think we have something to offer everybody. It is a fun experience to come in and see all the things we have to offer. We have the ice cream tour, the café, and you can leave with a quick basket item. It can be a day trip to get your shopping done,” said Sawyer.

To contact the Hilmar Cheese Company to schedule a tour, buy merchandise, or make inquiries, call 634-1408. Shopping can also be done online at


209 reporter