TODAY   |  July 25, 2013

Sisters return to family farm and reinvent it

The Giacomini sisters of Point Reyes, Calif., each left their family farm as young adults, starting their own families and entering the corporate world. But now they have returned to the dairy farm, redefining it as a sustainable producer of artisanal cheese. NBC’s Jane Pauley reports.

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>>> we're back now at 8:36 with life reimagined today. "today" contributor jane pauley has been working with aarp, which has produced and sponsored a series of reports for us, and we're happy about that.

>> good morning, matt. a new generation is reinventing and redefining the family farm , sustainable, artisanal, farmstead. case in point, meet the giacominni sisters from california who never imagined how they'd re-imagine their lives, much less that they'd be doing it together. on 700 windswept acres north of san francisco , four sisters grew up on a dairy farm . then went their own way. diana, banking. jill, silicon valley . karen, family. lynn, marketing.

>> you're going to love it.

>> the girls really weren't that interested in cows. they never were.

>> bob has been a dairyman his whole life. while his wife prepared their daughters for a world beyond the farm. was there any interest in livestock at all?

>> no.

>> no.

>> reporter: one day dad called everyone home.

>> it was what are we going to do with the family farm ? my dad has had this for 64 years.

>> reporter: the milk business was getting harder, and bob was getting older, but he had a new idea.

>> it was an opportunity for me to see what else was out there. the opportunity to be creative, to run our own business, to really lend our talents to something that we really love.

>> reporter: my theory is that you shrewdly, cagily lured your kittens back home with cheese.

>> i would never admit that.

>> reporter: is there some truth to it?

>> i would never admit that.

>> reporter: who knew how to make cheese?

>> none of us.

>> nobody.

>> none of us.

>> reporter: reinventing the farm would mean reimagining their own lives.

>> there's financial risk . there's emotional risk. i had to put that other life of mine on hold, and at some point make the decision i'm never going back.

>> reporter: they learned all they could.

>> i think it needs to be aged longer. and invested in new equipment.

>> it was a gamble, but if you don't take gambles once in a while , it's kind of a dull life.

>> we got paid in cheese for the first few years.

>> reporter: i thought that was a family joke.

>> it's a startup.

>> reporter: there was one hold out. until diana's career in finance was stalled by the recession.

>> best thing that ever happened to me.

>> reporter: now she's the cfo. their range of experience, a perfect blend.

>> i manage all of the marketing and communications.

>> i deal are retailers and customers and distributors.

>> i do a lot of the cooking and the entertaining in here.

>> reporter: the dairy hired a master cheese maker to make four kinds of cheese and has added a culinary center that attracts hundreds of agri-tourists. who are those people that want to go see a dairy farm ?

>> it's all about the farm to table experience. they want to know where their food comes from.

>> this is what we built the company on, original blue. it's very full flavored, but you can spread it on a baguette like butter.

>> reporter: and this month in new york, point reyes cheese won two sophie awards, often described as the oscars for food.

>> this is my four daughters that did all this, and you know what, this is to their mother who passed away last year. thank you, thank you.

>> reporter: jean giaccominni had encouraged her daughters to pursue their own dreams, and they found them back here on the farm.

>> i got my daughters back. i'm the luckiest guy on earth.

>> and there are great expectations for a fourth generation to carry on the family business . reality check, the sisters couldn't have done it without the emotional and financial support of husbands and brothers-in-law, affectionately known as the outlaws. join me at 9:15 eastern when i'll be taking nur questions on twitter. you can find me at jane pauley today or by using using #artisancheese. the they wanted you to sample some of their big winners. this is the toma. this was sort of best new artist in that sophie award.

>> it's delicious.

>> oh, i know it is. i know. but this was the big winner. this won the oscar, the sophie for best new product. that's bay blue blue cheese .

>> as i bite this, i'll be unable to do the tease. so i'll take you back to your days hosting the "today" show. i'll bite this, you take that, jane.