Marin French Cheese Co. of Petaluma, California, the oldest cheese company in the United States, has been acquired by French cheese conglomerate Rians. Rians (click on the link to hear their cheery theme song) is the same company that purchased Laura Chenel's Sonoma County, California operation in 2006. Marin French has been operating for over 100 years in the San Francisco Bay area making mostly French style bloomy rinded cheeses. Starting in 1865 as Thompson Brothers Cheese Co., the company made its name selling a 'breakfast cheese' (which it still sells) in San Francisco. The company later reorganized into Marin French Cheese Co. Previous owner Jim Boyce, who purchased the company from the founding family in 1998, had apparently been searching for a buyer for several years. His untimely death from liver cancer late last year contributed to his family's search for a new owner that could preserve the company and its commitment to Marin County's land and dairy farmers.
This marks the second California cheese company to be acquired by a larger European company in less than a year - Cypress Grove Chevre of Humboldt, California was acquired by Emmi, a Swiss Company, in August of 2010. I think this is indicative of a number of things including the strength of the cheesemakers and cheese industry in California; I am also curious whether or not this is a trend that will continue. Which cheesemaker do you think will be next?