Artisan Cheese at James Ranch

Cheese Contact:


Becca & Dan James
(970) 799-0782

We produce 100% grass-fed, raw, farmstead cheeses in the beautiful Animas Valley near Durango, CO.

Our cheeses are truly raw and truly 100% grass-fed. We make cheese seasonally – only when our cows are on green grass. Because all of our cheeses are aged, we have this exceptional, tasty cheese for you year round.

Click here to for more information about purchasing our cheese.

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Our Cheeses


A raw cow's milk cheese that does well in recipes and as an all-purpose table cheese.

Young Belford - Aged 90 days. Our youngest cheese, it is very flavorful, creamy, and mild. It melts very well. Kids love it. Young Belford makes a great table cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Mature Belford - A nine to twelve month old cheese that has developed some delicious sharpness while maintaining its rich, creamy texture. Mature Belford is a fabulous table cheese and pairs well with beer and a variety of red wines as well as fresh apples and pears. Mature Belford is also delicious melted on top of a quiche or vegetable casserole.

Reserve Belford - Aged three years. Cheese expert Laurel Miller describes as, "...reminiscent of an aged Gouda, with notes of butterscotch and a pleasing crunch due to the development of amino acid crystals."


A raw, nine to twelve month old cheese with creamy texture and a whole cumin seed in it. It develops mellow citrus notes as it ages. Leyden is wonderful on its own or paired with ripe tomatoes. It is also a delicious accent in Mexican dishes and your morning scrambled eggs.

Colorado Blue

A smooth natural rind blue cheese with hints of cream and smoky mushroom. The blue is definitely present but does not overpower the deep flavors of the grass and land.

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Cows have been eating grass for millennia. Their digestive systems function best when given this traditional diet. That is one reason why we feed our cows only grass in the summer and hay in the winter. We have a very healthy herd and treat most ailments with homeopathy or natural supplements on the rare occasions they crop up. We treat "the girls", as we affectionately call our herd, with respect and care as evidenced by our Animal Welfare Approved status.

Our Cheese is not just great tasting, but also great for you!

Having a 100% grass-fed herd also produces healthier products for people. Cheese made from the milk of 100% grass-fed cows has higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Our cheese also has high levels of beta carotene (creating the yellow color), CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and vitamins E, and A. Because our cheese is also raw, all of these vitamins and the enzymes that help you digest dairy are preserved instead of destroyed during pasteurization.

Exclusively grazing our herd also forces us to manage the land in a very conscientious way. We never use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Instead, we rotate the cows to new pasture daily thus improving pasture quality, building topsoil, and sequestering carbon (instead of releasing it as tillage does). We promote biodiversity, clean water, and a balanced ecosystem through our practices.

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We milk our cows seasonally (only when we have green grass) and let them rest and grow a healthy calf all winter (when they eat hay). The cows stroll up from the pasture each morning to be milked and are then moved onto fresh pasture.

The milk is rapidly cooled in our bulk tank, or, if it is a cheese making day, pumped straight to the cheese vat, fresh and warm. In the vat, we add cultures (good bacteria) which help give different cheeses their distinctive flavors and begin to acidify the milk. After that we add enzymes in the form of rennet to solidify the milk into curds. From there, we cut the curds, drain the whey (which goes to our pigs out on pasture), put the curds into molds, press them, brine them, and then age the cheese for between 60 days and 3 years in our aging caves.

All that we do, from the care of our pastures and herd to careful milk handling and small batch attention to detail, comes together to create truly special cheeses that we know you will love. Good food – produced responsibly is what we are all about.