Tillamook Cheese #Blog2Farm Tour


One of the things I love about my job are the opportunities that come my way.  Over the past 7 years of blogging I have had the opportunity to go to some fabulous places: to name a couple GE Monogram in Louisville, KY home of Bourbon.  Can I get an Amen?!  Beautiful Southern Oregon to Harry & David and to Northern California for Dole Salads.  My most recent trip was to Tillamook, Oregon.  Home of Tillamook Cheese.  Can I get another Amen?!

Hotel Deluxe Portland | farmgirlgourmet.com

Our adventure started in Portland, Oregon.  I love Portland.  If it didn’t rain 564 days a year, I’d move there in a hot second.  We stayed at the Hotel deLuxe in downtown Portland and if you love old Hollywood glam, this is the hotel for you!  See Humphrey back there, he’d approve!

Hotel deLuxe Portland | farmgirlgourmet.com

There are hotels where you make a mental note that you MUST, without question, return again.  Hotel deLuxe is at the top of the list.  After settling in I headed out for a quick bite with my blogging friend Gerry from FoodnessGracious.com.  If you haven’t checked out his blog, you definitely should.  He’s also a master caramel maker.  It’s true.  We came back to a welcome reception in the hotel where we met our PR friends from SodaPop PR as well as several Tillamook executives, while enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres and a local libations.

Tillamook Cheese Factory | farmgirlgourmet.com

The Oregon landscape whizzed by as we traveled west from Portland to Tillamook the next morning.  We started through the dense evergreen lined mountain pass and ended in the pastoral Tillamook valley.  Home to lots and lots of cows.  The cow population in Tillamook outnumbers humans…28,000 dairy cows strong.

We stopped at the Tillamook Cheese factory where we were treated to cheese sampling, a lesson in how to “taste” cheese from their Master Cheese Taster in the Sensory Department.  We all thought it would be pretty great to have her job, until we saw the palette of 40 lb blocks of cheese and then she let us in on the real way to taste.  Bite it, chew it and then “expectorate” it.  Can you imagine if she had to actually consume it?  Yikes.

Cheesy fact: Tillamook Cheese Plant in Tillamook Oregon houses 10% of the worlds cheese. That’s 50-55 million pounds of cheese at any given time in their cold storage warehouses.  I know where I’m going if there’s an apocalypse!

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

After a delicious lunch at the factory we headed to my 4th love – the ocean.  First through third of course are husband and kids (not always in that order).  Being in land-locked Eastern Washington state is tough on this sea loving girl.  As soon as I see that big blue expanse, I release a sigh of joy.  We stopped for a leg stretch at this gorgeous lighthouse.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

Pictured from Left to Right: Kathy (Panini Happy), Stacy (Kid, Stuff, World), Vianney (Sweet Life Bake), Jennifer (Real Posh Mom), Yours Truly, Gerry (Foodness Gracious), Staci (7 On A Shoestring) and Carrian (Oh Sweet Basil).  Not pictured are Chelsea & Nate (Someday I’ll Learn).

Of course we needed a “cheesy” picture.  Right?  Check out Jennifer’s cheddar inspired Tom’s.  Cheese-tastic.

Tillamook Chese | farmgirlgourmet.com

We headed to our motel across from this gorgeous view.  No, that’s not the rock from The Goonies, but I think it may be its twin.  Nevertheless, it was magnificent and although it was cold, I stood on my balcony and gazed at it’s wonderment for quite some time before heading over to dinner with the group.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.comAnd of course, it was just as grand in the morning with the sunrise illuminating every rocky crease.  After a quick breakfast at the motel we headed to one of the 99 farms that make up the Tillamook Co-op.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

I was in my farmy element as soon as I stepped off the bus.  Smooch cows – check!  I tried to put this one in my pocket, but she was a tad too big.  At the dairy farm we walked the barns with the owner and she told us all about their day-to-day operations.  3:30 am – milk the cows.  3:30 pm – milk the cows.  The 12 hours in between – feed, clean, calve, clean some more, feed some more.  If you think it’s easy work being a dairy farmer, think again!

You may be wondering:  “why can’t they just milk at 8 am and 8 pm instead of getting up so early?”.  The components found in milk (fat, protein, water etc) are richer in the early morning hours than they are in the afternoon milking, making for a better base for making cheese and rich dairy products.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

Before we all hopped back on the bus for the ride back to Portland, we circled the boots for one last group shot.  3 days, a lot of miles, wonderful new friends, reconnecting with old friends and delicious cheese.  Hard to beat and definitely one of my favorite blogging tours to date.

More Cheesy Facts:

  • A cow can drink a bathtub full of water.  It takes about 2 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of milk.  So they must drink drink drink.
  • More than 50% of a dairy farmers income will go back into the cost of feeding the cows.
  • Cows sleep lying down – in case you were thinking about doing some cow-tippin’.
  • It takes 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese.
  • Tillamook Cheese Plant can receive anywhere from 1.6 million to 1.8 million pounds of milk per day!

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

The crew that made it all happen!

Special thanks to Tillamook and SodaPop PR for inviting me on this #Blog2Farm tour.  Passionate people + great companies = the best recipe ever.

Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.  My airfare, hotel, meals and travel were provided by Tillamook.

  • Jana Donovan
    May 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Hi, Even though your visit was a few years ago…Did you get a chance to see how all those cows, especially ALL THE CALVES born to those dairy cows, were treated?? My husband is a big Tillamook fan, and as a consumer, I’m very concerned with animal welfare in the meat and dairy industry. Did anything seem cruel and unfair to those beautiful creatures? I sent an email to the Tillamook Company about 3 weeks ago and I have not had any replies! Thank you!

    • FarmgirlGourmet
      May 5, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Each farm is owned by individuals as Tillamook is a co-op. The farm that we visited was clean, the animals were well taken care of and the ranchers were open to us looking anywhere and everywhere…which in my opinion meant that they had nothing to hide. I am a huge fan of Tillamook also. They are a wonderful company with amazing products. Thanks for commenting…sorry it took a couple days to reply. 🙂

      • Jana Donovan
        May 8, 2015 at 9:19 am

        Thank you so much for your reply. Means a lot to me! The Tillamook Company finally sent me a long email reply to my questions I sent weeks ago. I am substantially reducing the amount of meat and dairy products I buy for my husband. Only buying from organic co-ops and family farms in our area. Anything I can do to reduce the horrible factory farms and the suffering of those beautiful animals!

  • Gillian Kennedy
    November 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    These pictures bring back fond memories 🙂 I have never seen cows warm so quickly to a person. I think they would have been quite content hopping in your pocket. Please, please, please come back and see us again soon!

    All the best,

    Gillian, of the Tillamook Team

  • Gerry @ foodness gracious
    November 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Great post, it certainly was a fantastic trip with some amazing people. Thanks for the mention 🙂

  • Ann
    November 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Does all of the milk for tillamook cheese come from cows here in Oregon?

    • FarmgirlGourmet
      November 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Sure does. The milk is produced by the 99 co-op farmers of Tillamook county.

  • Sharon
    November 1, 2013 at 5:11 am

    AMEN to Tillamock, Oregon. Oregon is sich a beautiful state. I agree that it could rain less.

    • FarmgirlGourmet
      November 1, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Oregon is the best for sure! Thanks for commenting!! 🙂

  • Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective
    October 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    What a great experience, Heather! Cheese is the best!! 🙂

  • Katie
    October 31, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Hi Heather!

    Thanks so much for coming out here and visiting us! It was such a treat to meet you and show you around our home. Please come back soon, and bring some of those spices with you next time. 😉

    All my best,
    Katie, of the Tillamook team

    P.S. I love your lighthouse shot – I can still smell the ocean breeze 🙂

  • Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
    October 31, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Can you pack me in your suitcase next time? I like cheese too! 🙂

  • Pat hartnett
    October 31, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Amen, amen I say to you Heather!

  • Sheila @Eat2gather
    October 31, 2013 at 7:37 am

    I do love me some Tillamook cheese. Looks like this was a great trip love your re-cap! Oregon is one gorgeous state!

  • Mere Frost
    October 31, 2013 at 7:31 am

    oopsie…before I married him he had dairy cows!

  • Mere Frost
    October 31, 2013 at 7:29 am

    I love Oregon too! So green and pretty!!! All that nice rain! The coastine is gorgeous to a coastliner like me! 🙂 CHEESE!!!! I could eat cheese at every meal…and of course I suffer! Ha! One of my favorite things to do is to taste all kinds of cheeses and sample wines too of course! LOL What a great experience and thank you for the dairy cow facts. My hubby’s family had dairy cows but I was here then! So glad to hear that cows sleep lying down! That tipping business sounded so mean!!!! p.s. Fantastic photos!