Pearl Valley Cheese to celebrate its 95th year

Pearl Valley Cheese to  celebrate its 95th year

These are great-great-grandchildren of the original owner of Pearl Valley Cheese at the Swiss Festival in 2022. Pictured from top left are George Ellis and Grace Ellis and from bottom left are Max Ellis, Jordan Hartle and William Ellis.


In the early 1920s, Pearl Valley Cheese founder Ernest Stalder immigrated to the United States from Switzerland. In 1928 he purchased a cheese factory for $700 where one 200-pound wheel of Swiss cheese was made every day in a copper kettle. This was the simple beginning to what we know as Pearl Valley Cheese today.

The company is now operated by the fourth generation of the family. The 95th anniversary of Pearl Valley Cheese will be celebrated with a Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be inflatables, food trucks, cheese deals, tours, popcorn, drawings and more.

Stalder married Gertrude Bandi, another Swiss immigrant, in 1929. She was involved with all parts of the business. Milk for the cheese was delivered by horse and wagon until 1932 and by truck after that.

Electricity was added in 1938 when they built a new building and added more copper kettles and presses. When World War II started, Pearl Valley Cheese began making brick cheese in 6-pound pieces. Since most men were at war, the smaller pieces were easier for women to handle.

Colby cheese became more popular in the late 1940s. Also, during that time, there were 50 different small cheese factories in the state, but Ohio Farmer Magazine wrote Pearl Valley Cheese was the largest cheese plant in the state.

Colby cheese varieties make up about 60% of Pearl Valley Cheese’s product line. This also was a big distinction from other factories that focused only on Swiss cheese. Swiss is usually manufactured in bricks instead of wheels. This is more efficient, and the bricks are easily cut into sandwich squares in delis.

In 1969, 2,000-gallon stainless steel steam-lined vats replaced the copper kettles, though visitors to the store can still see an original copper kettle just outside the retail store.

A neighboring farm was purchased in 2001, and Pearl Valley expanded again. A 20,000-square-foot production facility was built, and Double-O enclosed vats were installed to allow more production of Swiss and Colby cheeses. The expansion allowed the company to increase capacity to custom manufacture and private label cheese for customers and promote their own cheese.

Pearl Valley Cheese is located at 54760 Township Road 90 in Fresno. It is accessible from state Route 93.

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load