We are very fortunate here on the Central Coast to have so many farms and ranches producing amazing goods. Stepladder Creamery is one such farm. I contacted my friend Sophia, who works there, to see if the owners would want to do a Q&A so we could learn more about them and what they are doing on the property. I can’t wait to go do a full tour.
Matt: Who is behind Stepladder Creamery?
Stepladder Creamery: Jack Rudolph is the manager of Stepladder Ranch and is the third generation of his family to manage the ranch. We also have a longtime staff of ranch hands, as well as Sophia Stephens our Guest Services Manager, and Michelle Angell our Director of Sales. Farrah Johnson is the Creamery Manager and resident goat whisperer.
Matt: Have you always been farmers/ ranchers?
Stepladder Creamery: No, Jack’s grandfather, Jack Russell, purchased the property in the 70’s during his retirement. Jack Rudolph (his grandson) studied economics and worked at a Silicon Valley tech startup before moving to Cambria take over the management of his family’s farm when it was struggling to make a profit after Jack’s grandfather passed away.
Matt: Are you from this area originally? If not where from?
Stepladder Creamery: Jack grew up in the Bay Area, but came down to visit his grandfather at the ranch frequently when he was a child. He always enjoyed his time on the ranch with the open space and room to breathe.
Matt: What did you do prior to Stepladder Creamery?
Stepladder Creamery: Jack studied economics and worked at a Silicon Valley tech startup before moving down to manage his family’s farm. He was always into bread making and cheesemaking from home, as a hobby. He enjoyed the challenge of it… and grew to love goats in the process. He started caring for and milking 2 goats that lived on his friend’s family farm in the Bay Area – when he moved to Stepladder Ranch he brought the goats with him and expanded his herd to what is now a herd of 50 LaMancha goats.
Matt: What products do you offer and where can they be found?
Stepladder Creamery: We sell avocado-citrus blossom honey, farmstead handcrafted cheeses from our goat milk and pasture raised cows milk, avocados, passion fruit, and heritage pork that is coined “forest raised and avocado fed pork.” Our cheeses can be purchased at Di Raimondos in Paso, Fromagerie Sophie in SLO, 15 Degrees C in Templeton, and our honey is available for sale at the General Store in Paso, Jack Creek Farms in Paso Robles off the 46W and a Matter of Taste in Cambria, The Station in SLO, Shine in Morro Bay. Our products can also be found on the seasonal menus of Thomas Hill Organics, Artisan, McPhee’s, Luna Red, Novo, Robins, Madlines and Linns to name a few. We are so thankful for the support of our local retailers and restaurants!
Matt: Do you offer tours? If so, how can people contact you about those?
Stepladder Creamery: Yes! We offer private tours daily that are 1-hour long and will give you a unique and personalized opportunity to see what’s happening inside of the creamery as guided by one of our Stepladder Creamery staff members, learn about and witness cheesemaking in action, and conclude your tour with a tasting of the seasonal goat cheese that we have available – and right now is baby goat season so we have a handful (over 14!) of baby goats that would love to meet you. If you do an early morning or noon tour you can likely help us with bottle feeding the kids. You can send an email to email@example.com to book a private tour, or visit www.stepladdercreamery.com
Matt: What kind of animals do you have on the property and how many of each?
Matt: You have a vacation rental on the ranch, how has that been going?
Stepladder Creamery: We started our vacation rental in 2014Is it open to rent year round?
It is open year round for rent, and has stunning views of the coastline as well as the Santa Lucia mountains.
Matt: How can people contact you about that?
Stepladder Creamery: Take a virtutal tour of the home at www.cambriaranchrental.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The home is also listed on Airbnb
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4118436 or VRBO https://www.vrbo.com/628494?unitId=1176275
Matt: What do you think separates your ranch from others?
Stepladder Creamery: Our ranch has unique diversity of farming operations along with the most picturesque setting imaginable. We have meat production, dairy, creamery as well as fruits and vegetables. We try to keep our operation diverse and as integrated as possible, for example, the whey biproduct from our cheesemaking makes up an important part of our pigs’ diet, and we fallen avocado fruits from our orchards get fed to the pigs as well. I think it is rare to find a farm that has operations in so many different categories.
Matt: Do you have any plans to expand or add new things?
Stepladder Creamery: We are not planning to expand or add anything new in the near term, but we do want to increase the intensity of our subtropical fruit plantings, and add some new cheeses to the lineup. We are also excited to announce Stepladder Ranch as a unique farm wedding venue for those looking for an intimate and picturesque place to celebrate their special day on the central coast.
Matt: What is your favorite aspect of the farm/ ranch life?
Stepladder Creamery: Being active and outside every day and sharing a connection with the animals and the land. It is amazing to watch sun and water create plants that either fruit, or feed animals that feed us with their milk or meat.
Matt: How many acres do you have?
Stepladder Creamery: The ranch itself is 740 acres, with 40 acres planted with fruit orchards, and about 3 acres in dairy pasture.
Matt: Do you have a certain farming philosophy?
Stepladder Creamery: Nothing with a specific label. We try to imagine the best possible lives for our animals and create them for them. If a pig was in heaven what would it have access to? Probably avocados, whey, room to forage and burrow, acorns and mushroom to eat and open pasture. What about goats? Free choice grass and clover, oak leaves, sprouted sunflower seeds and barley and sweet carrots for dessert after milking hour. ☺