Meet the sisters who saved Marin County's Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.
When Tobias Giacomini left Northern Italy in 1904 for the fertile lands of California, little did he know that his search for gold would instead lead him to the riches of farming — and a family legacy that would endure for generations to come.
Four generations later, the farm has been reimagined by three of his great-granddaughters.
“None of us knew we would go into the family business,” said Jill Giacomini Basch, one of his great-granddaughters. “We were not interested in doing this at all.” Today, Giacomini Basch, along with two of her three sisters, runs the family business now known as Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.
Since 2000, Giacomini Basch has served as chief marketing officer, with sister Lynn Giacomini Stray serving as chief operating officer. Diana Giacomini Hagan officially came on board as chief financial officer in January 2009. The fourth sister, Karen Giacomini Howard, did work on the farm and has since retired.
After coming up empty in Gold Country, Tobias Giacomini settled in Petaluma, where he would go on to raise hundreds of chickens and a dozen cows on his farm.
In 1938, one of his seven sons, Waldo Giacomini, moved from Petaluma with his wife to Point Reyes in west Marin County. The Giacomini sisters’ father, Bob Giacomini, was a baby at the time.
The family stayed rooted in Point Reyes and, in 1959, Bob Giacomini and his wife, Dean, purchased a nearby dairy farm on Tomales Bay and began making milk to sell to the local creamery. By the mid-1990s, the couple was producing grade A quality milk from their herd of more than 500 cows, selling to multiple distributors, including Clover Stonetta (now Clover Sonoma), said Giacomini Basch.
In the late-1990s, Bob and Dean Giacomini sat their three youngest daughters down to discuss the future. Both were about to turn 60 years old, the dairy operation had outgrown the 720-acre property, and they decided it was time to begin the process of paring back the farm or selling the property altogether, Giacomini Basch said.
“It was a pivotal time for them, and that’s what planted the seed for all of us,” she said. “We all came back to the farm as an Act 2 in our professional lives.”
By 2000, the family had transitioned the business into an artisan farmstead cheese-making facility. The three sisters took executive roles and would share CEO responsibilities. In 2010, the Giacomini parents transferred company ownership to their daughters. Dean Giacomini passed away in 2012, and Bob Giacomini remains active in the business.
Taking the reins as Farmstead’s CMO made sense for Giacomini Basch, who had married and was ready to end her marketing and advertising career in the high-tech world of Silicon Valley.
“I loved what I did but on the other hand it was a grind, working 50 or 60 hours a week,” she said. “I didn’t think working to that degree was going to be conducive to starting a family.”
Moving back to the farm enabled her to raise her children while building and marketing Farmstead.
“For the first six months, my sister, Lynn, and I were knocking on doors and taking meetings with retailers, chefs and distributors,” Giacomini Basch said, “and just telling our story of our history in the North Bay and raising animals using sustainable practices that resulted in the best quality milk.”