Sonoma in Sonoma County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Vella Cheese Factory
This stone building, having withstood a fire and numerous earthquakes, was originally constructed in 1904 to house a brewery.
During “Prohibition”, in 1931, Gaetano “Tom” Vella and his wife, Zolita, Clerici Vella converted the building’s use to the making of cheese.
Still under the Vella family ownership, not much has changed since 1931, the cultures, the care, and the personal hands-on-techniques, are still a part of their making quality cheese. Award-winning cheeses have been produced here since 1969.
Erected 2002 by Native Sons of the Golden West, Robert M. Rogers, Grand President.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Notable Buildings. In addition, it is included in the Native Sons/Daughters of the Golden West series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1904.
Location. 38° 17.705′ N, 122° 27.237′ W. Marker is in Sonoma, California, in Sonoma County. Marker is on 2nd Street East, 0.1 miles north of East Spain Street, on the left when Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 315 2nd Street East, Sonoma CA 95476, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Sonoma Brewing Company (here, next to this marker); Ray Adobe (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Blue Wing Inn (about 700 feet away); Mission San Francisco Solano (about 800 feet away); Mission San Francisco Solano Sacred Ground (about 800 feet away); The End of the Mission Trail (approx. 0.2 miles away); Vasquez House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Trinity Episcopal Church (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sonoma.
Also see . . .
1. Vella Dry Jack's dark brown coat makes an instant impression. "...The 8-pound wheels, made from pasteurized cow's milk and vegetable rennet, are hand-shaped in cheesecloth bags. Workers fill big cheesecloth squares with the salted curds, then roll and press the bag against the side of the vat until they create a wheel. The bags are then tied with string and the wheels are pressed overnight. On a whole wheel, you can see the "navel" produced by the impression of the string.
After several days of brining and weeks of air drying, the wheels are rubbed with Vella's signature cure, a mixture of soybean or safflower oil, black pepper and unsweetened cocoa. The oil keeps the wheels from cracking, but Tom Vella hatched the idea 50 years ago of adding the pepper and cocoa to keep the oil in suspension (Submitted on November 15, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California.)
2. 80 Years of Making Cheese. "...The company was founded by Chickie’s grandfather, Gaetano “Tom” Vella. An Italian immigrant, he came to Sonoma in the early 1920s and ended up making cheese at the Sonoma Mission Creamery.In 1931, he joined forces with another cheesemaker, Celso Viviani, to start their own company.
The pair rented and restored a 1904 stone building at 315 Second St. E., a former brewery that had gone belly-up during Prohibition. From there, they began creating Italian-style cheeses. Soon they moved into a building of their own on the plaza, where the Sonoma Cheese Factory now stands.
The partnership dissolved around 1950, and Gaetano moved his new operation to East Spain Street, site of the present La Casa restaurant. In 1969, he bought the 1904 stone building where the company had started and where it remains today.
Meanwhile, Gaetano’s son, Ignazio, or Ig, had joined the business after graduating with a history major from Santa Clara University in 1950 and serving as an Air Force officer in Korea..." (Submitted on November 15, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 7, 2019. It was originally submitted on November 15, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California. This page has been viewed 342 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on November 15, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.