By Laura Swanson
Do you remember what you were doing in August 1979? Denny and Chris Pastega and their three children, Tony, Jason and newborn Jessica – were celebrating the opening of what has become a local icon – Blue Heron French Cheese Company. To celebrate, Blue Heron’s “First Friday” September 6th is extra special — Cheers to 40years – Blue Heron wines, guest tastings, JAndy oysters, special appetizers and of course birthday cake will be served along with special musical entertainment from local favorites — Jazzatti-tude from 4 to 6 pm and the Sedona Fire band from 6 to 8 pm.
The Pastegas purchased the 40-acre Jersey dairy farm from the Zwald family in 1978, and converted the historical barn into a wine and cheese tasting room. The Blue Heron French Cheese Company is a family affair with a multitude of family attractions. Owned and operated by the Pastega family, the local landmark, a distinctive Dutch Colonial barn built in the 1930’s, has been remodeled and restored with several additions, to house the Blue Heron’s vast variety of unique gifts, wines, foods and, of course, cheeses.
Blue Heron French Cheese Company has experienced annual growth, and an ever-expanding business since opening in August, 1979. It began as a French brie cheese factory, with wine tastings, then more food selections were added with the deli, unique, specialty gift items and gift baskets, and then along came the petting farm. The area’s cheese connection and climate were perfectly suited to Denny Pastega’s visions for producing brie cheese and developing a popular tourist attraction has happened “organically” as the business continued to grow
Manager Jessica Pastega Bush has been involved with the family business literally since the day she was born. “That’s how we keep track of how long the Blue Heron has been in business, it was started the year I was born,” said Jessica. “I brought her down in a basket for the opening that year,” adds her mom, Chris Pastega. Through the years, Chris took an active role in the merchandise buying, and Jessica recalls tagging along on buying trips. “She insisted that we do our research and carry the best quality products,” added Jessica.
The evolution of the Blue Heron French Cheese Company from producing brie and samples of a few wines to include today offering over 90 wines (and beer too), a multitude of cheeses and food tastings, a deli, gifts, and petting farm has come about through the ingenuity of Denny Pastega. And that includes adding to the collection of antique farm equipment, historical buildings and other points of interest at Blue Heron.
Originally, customers came for the brie cheese, but as the years went on, Blue Heron became about so much more than cheese — the wines, the deli’s food, the samples, the gifts … and the petting farm. The Blue Heron’s location as a former dairy farm and the 40 acres, led the Pastega family (Denny) to acquire a few animals. Some animals came as rescues, and then when they saw how much visitors enjoyed the animals, that got him started, and Denny continued to add to the farm’s menagerie, that now includes about 25 grazing animals, everything from llamas to goats, sheep, ponies, and many winged creatures, chickens and geese.
The extensive gourmet foods selection, including many Blue Heron and locally-made products , including Riverhouse
Salad Dressings, jams, mustards, dips and much more are the perfect way to share the bounty of the North Oregon Coast. These prepared foods and the unique variety of gifts provides a multitude of options for gift-giving to friends and family, or to treat ourselves. There are always numerous free samples of the many delicacies – from dips and jams, to sauces and chocolates. There’s something new around the next corner when exploring Blue Heron’s gift selection. Riding the wave of online shopping popularity, the Blue Heron’s brie and a variety of unique gift baskets are available at www.blueheronoregon.com.
There’s something special about the Blue Heron, and it’s made possible by the Pastega family. It’s more than just cheese and wine — the cliché “something for everyone” really does apply to Blue Heron French Cheese Company.
Join the Blue Heron’s 40th anniversary celebration September 6th from 4 to 8 pm for a First Friday Cheers to 40 years, featuring Jazzatti-tude and Sedona Fire Band.
The Blue Heron French Cheese Company is located north of downtown Tillamook on Hwy. 101, one mile south Tillamook County Creamery cheese factory. The Blue Heron is open 7 days a week, during the winter from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and during the summer from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 503-842-8281 or 1-800-275-0639, or visit their website – www.blueheronoregon.com, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.