Day Trips: Knolle Dairy Farms, Sandia

South Texas farm offers fresh Mexican cheese and the chance to pet a Jersey cow

photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Knolle Dairy Farms outside of Mathis has the largest herd of Jersey dairy cows in South Texas. Since 1928, the farm has supplied milk to the Corpus Christi area.

In 2020, the farm pivoted to include cheese, yogurt, and curds in its offerings. They specialize in Mexican soft cheeses infused with herbs, mole, or peppers. The dairy has worked with local chefs to make other styles of cheese and a cinco leches cake for Cinco de Mayo.

Mexican soft cheeses are not aged and should be eaten fresh. Some of their cheeses, like queso panela, are firmer, and can be fried without melting and are great on sandwiches. Others, like queso fresco, are perfect for melting in quesadillas or chiles rellenos. Knolle cheeses have a mild flavor and are lower in salt than most soft cheeses.

Joe Knolle and his wife, Christina, took over the farm from his father in 2012. Joe looks the part of a fourth-generation dairy farmer. He's a big, rumpled guy with a friendly smile who will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about dairy farming and making cheese.

This is no slick corporate operation; it's a working farm that is happy to let visitors come out to watch them work and maybe pet a Jersey calf.

"Mexican soft cheeses should be eaten as fresh as possible, and you can't get any fresher than buying right from the factory," Joe says.

Knolle Dairy Farms is found down a series of potholed county roads in Sandia southwest of Mathis, about a 15-minute drive off I-37. The farm is open to visitors Wed.-Fri., 4-7pm, and Sat., 1-5pm. Give Joe a call at 361/876-2274.

1,645th in a series. Everywhere is a day trip from somewhere: Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at

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Knolle Dairy Farms, Joe Knolle, Christina Knolle, Mexican cheese, Sandia, Mathis, Corpus Christi

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