Meet first generation dairyman Joe Pinheiro; proud owner of Pinheiro Dairy which occupies a sprawl of prime pasture land in the rich agricultural corridor between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. A Portuguese immigrant, Joe grew up on his family’s small farm on the island of Faial in the Azores, and was no stranger to the relentless demands of ranch life. His youth was spent caring for the family dairy cows as well as tending the plot of corn and potatoes that was the basis of their diet.
At the age of eighteen, he arrived in the United States in search of the “all American dream,” and settled in Novato where he worked for his uncle milking cows. There he met his future wife, Arminda (“Mary”), and the pair eventually began looking for some land to call their own. When he found the beautiful 150 acre piece of land offered for sale outside Santa Rosa in 1964, Joe knew he was home. He was just twenty-three years old, but he was already a seasoned dairyman.
Fifty years later, Joe and Mary have made Pinheiro Dairy a local standout. Though now “semi-retired,” the couple’s grandson, Justin, currently handles the day to day operation and milking of their 400 Holstein dairy cows–becoming the third generation of his family to carry on the proud tradition.
Sitting astride his utility ATV, Joe chuckles quietly when asked what he loves most about dairy life. “It’s all I know. It’s what I like,” he says simply.
Pinheiro Dairy joined Clover’s team of distinguished partner producers in September of 2013.