At The Farm

Skyhill Napa Valley

Skyhill Napa Valley

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Nestled within a quiet farming community, lies a quintessential 160-acre farmstead in Rio Vista. The country road leading into Skyhill Farms is flanked by a sprawling landscape of wind turbines. It is a surreal experience to walk through this farm, as the blades of the wind turbines sound in the distance. They are the only tall structures as far as the eye can see, about 250 in total. The goat farm originated in the late 1980’s in the Napa Valley by organic gardener and cheese lover, Amy Wend. Today, this boutique dairy farm is owned by the McCosker family and operated by Daryl McCosker, and the remarkable Skyhill team that continue to create distinctive goat cheeses. The variety of goats are pasture roaming, meticulously cared for, and fed a healthful alfalfa diet with occasional goat treats such as cactus fruit and flowers. In addition, Daryl and Juan, his goatherd, deliver all their own baby goats, which frequently include twins and triplets, estimating several new additions to the family over the last few years It was a breezy day early in the morning when we visited Daryl at Skyhill Farms. The farm was already a buzz of activity, as the goats had just been milked and sent back to graze about. The goats peeked their heads over and through the fence, eager to interact, while the baby kids continued to eat fresh alfalfa in abundance. From Nubian to Alpine, to LaMancha, to Saanen, these goats are living the life! Even though there are over 300 distinct breeds of goats, most containing 2 horns, with both the male and female having beards, Skyhill Farms represents a unique variation of their own. A goat with a several inch beard beamed a toothy smile our way, no more wondering where the term ‘goatee’ came from! Surrounded by olive trees and a sustainable garden, Daryl has turned what was originally a dry landscape into a small oasis. A line of hedgerow eucalyptus trees bow over the farm road, a small pond re-circulates water for the farm, olive trees newly planted are already bearing clusters of green olives. Daryl’s vision is behind everything from the design of the large barn, to milk storage tanks, to the piping system that pumps the milk to the milk processor. The cheese is made on site, by experience cheese maker, Dave Grace and his team. A few of the mouthwatering varieties they make include rainbow peppercorn, jalapeno, and garlic & chive. When speaking about the farmland, you can see and hear the passion in Daryl’s voice, as he was able to transform the land and its animals into the self-sustaining farm it is today. When Daryl’s not “trimming hooves” on the farm, he’s a “nut for design”. His goal is to continue to create and build a fully sustainable farm that will produce natural foods and products for the public to enjoy. Today, his goats produce thousands of gallons of milk for the handmade goat cheese. Nearly 20 years after its origin, that famous face on the label, is that of Amy’s first award winning goat, Emily. What’s next for Skyhill Farms? Daryl’s planning this next season’s “goatfest” celebration, bringing in his family, the many chefs and customers, and the community to enjoy the collaboration between goats, the land, and the craft of cheese design. Because of high demand, it’s not always easy to find Skyhill Farms goat cheeses, but if you’re dining in Napa, you’ll likely find it on the menu, and if you’re in the Bay Area, Diablo Foods, Brown’s Valley Market, Oxbow Merchant, Mission Cheese and others will have some wheels in stock. Ever hear of a blue goat cheese?

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