Laura Chenel is a cheese maker who was America's first commercial producer of goat cheese, and helped to popularize goat cheese in America. In 1979, she began producing chèvre in the Bay Area town of Sebastopol, California, after a fact-finding trip to visit goat cheese producers in France. After several months of working to sell her product to local markets (with mixed success, due to American unfamiliarity with goat cheeses at the time), she received her first major opportunity when Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California placed a standing order for her cheese in 1980. Waters listed the cheese by name on her menu (as "Laura Chenel's Chèvre", in what may have been the first American instance of goat cheese salad), which provided Chenel with a great deal of publicity. Eventually, her operation would grow to sell over two million pounds of cheese per year. The company primarily manufactures fresh chèvre, although aged cheeses make up roughly 10% of its business. In 2006, Chenel sold the company to the Rians Group, a French corporation which has purchased multiple small farming operations, but she retains ownership of her herd of five hundred goats.