Califonia Bountiful

St. Benoit Yogurt

Great cows make great yogurt at this unique artisan company.

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Meet John Mattos, a third-generation dairy producer from Sonoma County. He owns more than 500 acres of bucolic land, where he cares for a herd of more than 500 jersey cows.

Now meet Benoit de Korsak, an entrepreneur from France. Together the two are behind one of the hottest items at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

So just how does an American farmer end up with a French artisan? It all has to do with a little culture—yogurt culture, that is!

In 2003, the unlikely pair took the best of both of their worlds and created St. Benoit Yogurt. It's a yogurt made with only three ingredients: a French culture; milk from John's jersey cows (which produce some of the richest milk around, thanks to a high percentage of proteins and butter fat); and finally, farm-fresh fruit from family farms up and down the state, including Twin Girls Farm's stone fruit and Marshall's Farm's honey.

The milk from John's farm travels less than 2 miles to Benoit's new creamery, where Benoit and his staff make all of the yogurt in small batches. This approach helps ensure that the flavors from the farm-fresh ingredients shine through.

As the nation's leading dairy state, it's no surprise California also leads the nation in yogurt production. But none is quite like this truly artisan product, which has farmers like John excited for the future.

"I think a person needs to be able to change and to think outside the box nowadays," he said. "We're all kind of venturing into new things and branching out in agriculture. It's pretty hard to survive the way my grandfather and father did, and this is a great way to move into the next generation of farming with my family."

For more information about St. Benoit Yogurt, visit

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