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ROBERTS
3 4 5 T O P C H E E S E M A K E R S F R O M 4 3 S TA T E S !

“Innovative but rooted in tradition, American artisan cheese production is making great strides for- The Atlas of
AMERICAN
ward. Its quality and diversity are masterfully recorded in The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese.”
—Jacques Pépin, chef, cookbook author, and host of numerous PBS-TV cooking series

“The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese proves that there is a rich, thriving world of flavor, quality, and

ARTISAN
tradition abroad in the land. This enormous undertaking by cheese aficionado Jeffrey Roberts makes
us feel proud of what can come from American soil, passion, and culture. Bravo to Jeffrey and all the
American artisan cheesemakers!” —Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors:

AMERICAN ARTISAN CHEESE


Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers Markets

“Chock-full of charming cheesemaker stories and explanations of the cheeses they make, The Atlas of
American Artisan Cheese provides us with an indispensable road map to American cheeses and helps
us navigate the ever-growing collection made from California to Maine.” —Laura Werlin, author of
The New American Cheese
CHEESE
“Jeff Roberts has been a driving force in the movement to develop world-class artisan cheeses here in Jeffrey P. Roberts

The Atlas of
the United States. In his new book, he shows us—farm by farm and cheese by cheese—why we have
cause to celebrate. Roberts proves this movement has finally come of age.” —Rob Kaufelt, proprietor of
Murray’s Cheese and author of The Murray’s Cheese Handbook
F O R E W O R D S B Y

CARLO PETRI NI
he first reference of its kind, this fully illustrated atlas of contemporary artisan cheeses Slow Food International

T and cheesemakers will be the source of many a fabulous food adventure. Organized by
region and state, The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese highlights 345 of the best cheese-
makers in the United States today, most of them tiny, family-owned creameries. Each profile
ALLI SON HOOPER
American Cheese Society
describes a cheesemaker; its history; its cheeses, whether from cow, sheep, or goat’s milk; avail-
ability; location; details on cheese-making processes; and suggestions for the best wine and beer
pairings. The Atlas captures America’s genius for local artisan cheese: a capacity for adaptation,
experimentation, and innovation, while following Old World artisanship and traditional methods.

Jeff Roberts helped establish the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University
of Vermont. He is a national director with Slow Food USA and co-chaired “Artisan
Cheeses of America” at Cheese 2001 and 2003 in Bra, Italy. He lives in Montpelier,
Vermont. Carlo Petrini is the founder and president of the International Slow Food
Movement. Allison Hooper is president of the American Cheese Society.
CHELSEA GREEN

ISBN 978-1-933392-34-9
CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING 53500
White River Junction, Vermont
802-295-6300
www.chelseagreen.com
Cover design by Peter Holm
Cover photo by Julie Cahn, Courtesy of Coach Farm, Inc.
Author photo by Lizzari Photographic 9 781933 392349
01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 1:56 PM Page 15

APPLETON CREAMERY

f you live in Maine or are vacationing

I there during the summer, a trip to a


Midcoast farmers’ market will intro-
duce you to Caitlin Hunter. Sometimes accom-
Established: 1994
Owners: Caitlin and Brad
Hunter
Cheesemaker: Caitlin Hunter
panied by husband Brad and daughter Fiona,
Address: 780 Gurney Town
she will soon have you appreciating her vari- Road, Appleton, ME 04862
eties of goat cheese. The creamery, located on Telephone: Unlisted
a small family farm in Appleton, near Camden, Email: info@appletoncreamery.com
makes handcrafted, award-winning cheese Web site: www.appletoncreamery.com
using traditional methods. In 1979, after Visitors: By appointment
developing an interest in dairy goats, Caitlin Types: Farmstead, seasonal, pasteurized and
became one of Maine’s pioneer cheesemakers, some raw American Alpine goat’s milk; some
cow’s and sheep’s milk
and for fifteen years made cheese for home
Varieties of cheese:
consumption. She points out that Maine’s Goat
working landscape of scrubby pasture and • Chèvre. Fresh pasteurized cheese in
woodland is ideal for goats because they prefer various-sized containers
• Marinated chèvre. Fresh pasteurized;
to browse on a wide variety of plants rather marinated in olive oil, roasted garlic, and
than grazing exclusively on grass. Licensed in herbs; ACS
1994, today she makes between 6,000 and • Chèvre buttons in oil. Fresh pasteurized
medallions in olive oil, rosemary, juniper
7,000 pounds of various chèvre, most of which
berries, and hot peppers; ACS
is sold at local farmers’ markets and a few • Sennebec. Fresh pasteurized chèvre with
retail outlets. In 2004, she inaugurated a line herbes de Provence
of cheese made from a neighbor’s sheep’s milk. • Feta. Traditional, dense and salty; both
goat’s and sheep’s milk
continued next page • Crofter’s Cheese. Aged two months;
washed curd, semi-soft, creamy; 5 pound
wheels; ACS
• Caprino di Vino. Aged two months; semi-
firm, marinated in Maine blueberry wine;
5 pound wheel
Sheep
• Scarborough Faire. Pasteurized fresh, with
fresh herbs
• BreBrie. Pasteurized Brie-style; bloomy-
rind, creamy; 6 ounce round
• Georges Highland. Aged three to four
months; semi-firm, buttery, nutty; 5 pound
tomme
Cow
• Knox Gold. Aged six months; dense, but-
tery; 25 pound wheel
• Camdenbert. Pasteurized; bloomy-rind;
3 pound wheel
• St. Bridget. Aged six to eight weeks;
pasteurized; 2 pound square
• Granite Kiss. Fresh, pasteurized; bloomy-
rind, ash-coated; 6 ounce round
Awards: Numerous awards from the American
Cheese Society
Where to find: Numerous Maine farmers’
markets and mail order; distribution to
Maine retailers

NEW ENGLAND • Maine


01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 1:56 PM Page 16

APPLETON CREAMERY continued

One cold September Saturday, wandering through the Common


Ground Fair in Union, Maine, we discovered Caitlin Hunter and
Appleton Creamery. Specifically, we found chèvre buttons in oil, a
revelation in taste for us and a cheese we look for whenever visiting
Maine. These half-dollar-sized rounds are packed in good olive oil,
rosemary, and hot pepper, all of which complement the rich,
creamy cheese and challenge you to eat just one. They are terrific
as an appetizer, an accompaniment to a green salad, or on a dessert
plate. Or, better still, it’s a perfect cheese to eat while relaxing on
summer’s day with any of the following beverages. Serve with:
Sparkling semi-dry cider• Sparkling dry Riesling • Pilsner or India
Pale Ale

16 Maine • NEW ENGLAND


02 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:14 PM Page 253

BUTLER FARMS

n 1990, Janet and Bill Butler acquired

I their first dairy sheep to help supply


milk to Hollow Road Farm, the pre-
cursor to Old Chatham Sheepherding
Established: 1995
Owners and cheese-
makers: Janet and Bill
Butler
Company in New York (see page 137). Janet Address: W13184 Sjuggerud Road, Whitehall,
worked at the creamery and gained valuable WI 54773
experience that contributed to their success Telephone: 715-983-2285
when they moved to western Wisconsin in Email: butr@triwest.net
1993. The 280-acre Butler Farm, located Web site: None
approximately halfway between Madison and Visitors: By appointment
St. Paul, Minnesota, was one of the first Types: Farmstead, seasonal, pasteurized and
raw Dorset, Lacaune, and Tunis sheep’s milk
licensed sheep dairies in the country. In 1995, and some cow’s milk
Janet and Bill began yogurt production, and Varieties of cheese:
two years later introduced a small group of • Brebis. Fresh; soft spread; 6 ounce con-
handmade cheeses. tainer
• Brebis button. Fresh; soft, herb-flavored;
At one time they milked many more animals, 4 ounce button
made more cheese, and sold products • Feta. Fresh; lightly salted; 4–6 ounce
throughout the region. Several years ago, they squares
decided to move to a seasonal operation and • Ricotta. Fresh; whey-based curd; 6 ounce
container
limit sales to the Dane County farmers’ market, • Aged tomme. Aged two weeks; soft ripened
where they sell direct to customers. Janet con- bloomy-rind; 5–6 ounce ovals, rounds, or
tinues to refine her cheese and, after recent squares
• Aged cheese. Aged two months; raw
experiments, added a soft ripened cow-sheep sheep’s milk; 2 pound wheel
cheese that sells out at the market. • Camembert. Aged two weeks; mixed cow’s
and sheep’s milk, soft ripened bloomy-rind;
5–6 ounce ovals, rounds, or squares
Where to find: Dane County farmers’ market
in Madison

UPPER MIDWEST • Wisconsin 253


02 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:13 PM Page 220

LOCUST GROVE FARM

hat do you get when you blend

W attention to detail, a passion for


sheep and herding dogs, ministry,
visionary ideals, and a commitment to quality?
Established: 2006
Owners and cheesemakers:
Sheri Palko and Tim Clark
Address: 500 Mountain Breeze
You discover the unique cheeses of Sheri Lane, Knoxville, TN 37934
Palko and Tim Clark at Locust Grove Farm. Telephone: 865-388-4123
For many years, Tim, a Baptist minister, raised Email: sheri@locustgrovefarm.net;
sheep, while Sheri, a software engineer, bred tim@locustgrovefarm.net
and competed with herding dogs. Their friend- Web site: www.locustgrovefarm.net
ship and collaboration brought the best of Visitors: By appointment
these worlds together with an interest in Types: Farmstead, seasonal raw East Friesian
sheep’s milk and some pasteurized Jersey
making cheese using traditional methods. The cow’s milk
partners emphasize how careful stewardship of Varieties of cheese:
animals and land is the foundation upon which • Galloway’s Farmhouse Cheese. Aged three
to create outstanding cheese. Tim spent time in to five months; natural rind, semi-hard,
moist, buttery; 4–5 pound wheels
Scotland with Allen Brown, who makes a • Galloway’s Farmhouse Mélange. Aged three
sheep’s milk cheese called Cairnsmore. Using to five months; blended cow’s and sheep’s
Mr. Brown’s recipe, Sheri and Tim make milk, natural rind, semi-firm, complex
Galloway Farmhouse Cheese, named in his flavor; 4–5 pound wheels
• Appalachian Spring. Aged two to four
honor. Every step is done by hand, especially months; washed curd, natural rind, semi-
working the curd, packing the hoops, and the firm, smooth, nutty; 1.3 pound wheel
careful aging process. Using European models, • Appalachian Spring Mélange. Aged two to
four months; washed curd, natural rind,
they constructed an aging room to maintain semi-firm, smooth, buttery, nutty;
constant humidity and temperature and 1.3 pound wheel
encourage native microflora development, Where to find: On-premises retail, mail order,
which in turn creates another distinctive flavor farmers’ markets, and local distribution
component.

220 Tennessee • THE SOUTH


02 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:26 PM Page 406

MONTEILLET FROMAGERIE

oan and Pierre-Louis Monteillet make

J cheese on a 27-acre farm situated on


the Touchet River in the Walla Walla
Valley of southeastern Washington. In
Established: 2002
Owners and cheesemakers: Joan and Pierre-
Louis Monteillet
Address: 109 Ward Road, Dayton, WA 99328
1978, Joan, who grew up in the state’s Palouse
Telephone: 509-382-1917
region, met Frenchman Pierre-Louis in Email: None
Mexico; they shared an interest in farming, Web site: www.montecheese.com
and for a year traveled the world to learn about Visitors: Yes; Saturday–Sunday, 1–5 pm
agriculture. They returned to Washington, got Types: Farmstead, seasonal, pasteurized and
married, and took over the operation of a raw French Alpine goat’s milk and cross-
2,000-acre wheat ranch, owned by Joan’s breed Friesian-Lacaune sheep’s milk
father. Subsequent travels to France helped Varieties of cheese (partial list):
Goat
shape their vision for farming, and by 1996 • Chèvre. Fresh; soft, mild, plain or herbs;
they were ready to move on. Further research, 6 ounce container
opportunities to make cheese in France, and a • Larzac. Aged two weeks; soft ripened, ash
layer, smooth, nutty; 6–8 ounce cylinders or
desire to farm sustainably led to their farm in 10–12 ounce pyramids
Dayton. • Cardabelle. Aged two weeks; soft ripened
In 2002, after a year of construction and bloomy-rind, rich, tangy; 4 ounce disk
final permitting, they opened for business with Sheep
• Mejean. Aged two weeks; soft ripened
goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses. Initially, they bloomy-rind, soft, unctuous; 7 ounce round
sold products at local farmers’ markets and to • Cardabelle. Aged two weeks; sheep’s milk
a growing number of excellent Walla Walla version
Blended pasteurized or raw milk
Valley restaurants. Demand for their cheese • Causse Noir. Aged two to four months;
grew dramatically as people noticed their dis- natural rind, creamy, dense, full-flavored;
tinctive qualities. In addition to some regional 2–4 pound wheel
distribution, they currently attend the Portland Where to find: Mail order, and Beaverton,
Portland, and Seattle farmers’ markets
and Seattle farmers’ markets.
In the past twenty years, wheat growing has
declined in the region, and at least fifty to connect good cheese and wine together in
wineries have opened to take advantage of the the same place. They envision this blending of
favorable climate and soils. Joan and Pierre- eastern Washington terroir and French inspira-
Louis see these shifts as important changes to tion will result in exciting unique cheeses that
conventional agriculture and as opportunities express new cultural tastes and flavors.
01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 11/6/07 8:49 AM Page 178

EVERONA DAIRY

verona Dairy is located in the village of

E the same name in Virginia’s Piedmont,


northeast of Charlottesville. Pat Elliott,
a physician, has lived and practiced in the
Established: 1998
Owner and cheese-
maker: Pat Elliott
Address: 23246 Clarks
community for many years. In 1992, she Mountain Road,
bought a Border Collie and then purchased Rapidan, VA 22733
some sheep, so the dog would have something Telephone: 540-854-4159
to do. The sheep, in turn, opened the door to Email: Everona@vabb.com
Pat’s cheesemaking, and since 1998 she has Web site: www.everonadairy.com
produced some of the country’s best sheep Visitors: By appointment
cheese. For many years, she made cheese con- Types: Farmstead, seasonal, raw East Friesian
sheep’s milk
currently with her medical practice, which is
Varieties of cheese:
housed in a separate building on the farm. • Piedmont. Aged two to ten months; natural
Managing sheep and making cheese is a major rind, firm, nutty, buttery; 1.5 and 6 pound
commitment; coupled with a medical practice, wheels; also cracked pepper and other
flavors; ACS
it seems unimaginable! • Stony Man. Aged three to ten months;
natural rind, hard, dry, nutty, caramel;
6 pound wheel
• Pride of Bacchus. Aged two to ten months;
natural rind soaked in red wine, fruity;
6 pound wheel
Awards: 2005 American Cheese Society, First
Place
Where to find: Local farmers’ markets and
selected retailers nationwide

For four hundred years, farmers from Thomas Jefferson to contemporary growers have recognized the dis-
tinctive qualities of Virginia’s Piedmont. Today, cheesemakers are capturing the region’s terroir in their
products. Everona Dairy describes how the limestone ridge, red Piedmont soil, abundant water, and tem-
perate climate contribute to lush grasses and other plants—just the menu for great sheep’s milk.
Everona’s Piedmont is truly a hands-on effort, since the dairy uses a 20-gallon vat to make all of its
cheeses, often several times a day. They ladle curds into molds that impart a distinctive knobby pattern to
the rind. During the six-month maturation period, the rind turns a rich brown color, while the paste
develops a beautiful golden-brown hue with aromas of grass and herbs, and complex flavors of nuts and
butter. Serve with: Still hard cider • Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling wine • Pilsner or India Pale Ale

178 Virginia • MID-ATLANTIC


01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 11/20/07 7:46 AM Page 166

OTTERBEIN ACRES

he Fisher family—John, Lena, and

T their six children—are Old Order


Amish farmers in Newburg, a small
town west of Carlisle. Otterbein Acres is a 96-
acre sheep and cow farm and dairy. Their son, Established: 2005
Paul, lives a mile away, and they buy all their Owner: Lena and John Fisher
milk from his nine Jersey cows. Since they use Cheesemaker: Katie Fisher
no electricity, John designed a mechanical Address: 10071 Otterbein Church Road,
carousel to milk approximately forty ewes; all Newburg, PA 17240
their sheep milk and Paul’s Jersey milk goes Telephone: 717-423-6689
into the vat to make cheese. Daughter Katie is Email: None
the principal cheesemaker, supported by Lena Web site: None
and John. They rely on hand labor—stirring, Visitors: Yes; Monday–Friday, 7 am–8 pm;
Saturday, 7 am–5 pm; closed Sunday
cutting curd, and packing hoops—to make
Types: Farmstead, seasonal raw East Friesian,
each cheese; the wheels then mature on Dorset, and Romanov crossbreed sheep’s
wooded planks in an underground cellar. milk and some Jersey cow’s milk
The conveniences so common to the rest of Varieties of cheese:
America are not part of Old Order Amish his- Sheep
• Ewe’s Dream. Aged two to four months;
tory and contemporary life. The Amish and semi-firm; 2 pound wheel
Mennonite rejection of technology may repre- • Ricotta. Fresh; whey-based curds
sent the closest expression of what “tradi- Cow
• Cheddar. Aged four months; bandage- and
tional” means in American cheese history.
lard-wrapped, firm, complex flavor; 2 pound
Without reliance on machinery or the latest wheel
technology, they make cheese within a well- • Gouda. Aged four months; washed curd;
established framework of handwork, attention waxed 3 pound wheel
Cow and sheep
to land and animals, craftsmanship, and intu- • Manchego. Aged five months; waxed;
ition. And yet, avoidance of the modern does 2 pound wheel
not mean a rejection of knowledge. For Where to find: On-premises retail and local
example, the Fishers attended cheesemaking stores
classes taught by Kathy Biss, a well-respected
English consultant and teacher. They now to a delightful maturity. Their Manchego, made
make traditional English-style Cheddar, with sheep’s and cow’s milks, reflects an
wrapped in muslin, coated with lard, and aged understanding and appreciation for how great
milk leads to distinctive cheese.

166 Pennsylvania • MID-ATLANTIC


01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:03 PM Page 81

PEAKED MOUNTAIN FARM

lthough Ann and Bob Works are from

A Minnesota, for generations his family


farmed along the Connecticut River
in Vermont and New Hampshire. For years
Established: 1999
Owners and cheesemakers:
Ann and Bob Works
Address: 1541 Peaked
they lived outside New York City; Bob’s com- Mountain Road, Townshend,
pany managed the renovations of Grand VT 05353
Central Station. Arriving in Vermont in 1998 Telephone: 802-365-4502
and wanting to create a “totally unique food Email: pkmtfarm@sover.net
experience,” they bought the former Old Web site: www.vtcheese.com
Morgan Horse Farm and transformed it into a Visitors: By appointment
modern sheep dairy and cheesemaking facility. Types: Farmstead, seasonal, pasteurized and
raw East Friesian sheep and some cow’s and
After apprenticing with Cindy and David goat’s milks
Major, they started production of Vermont Varieties of cheese:
Shepherd cheese. A few years ago, in addition • Bo-Peep. Pasteurized, fresh; Camembert-
to the cheese made for Vermont Shepherd, they style; bloomy-rind; creamy; 6 ounce round
• Vermont Dandy. Aged four to twelve
added their own varieties and diversified the months; natural rind; semi-hard, buttery;
farm’s products. Today, their annual produc- 6–8 pound wheel
tion is approximately 6,000 pounds, and farm • Woodpeckerino. Aged eight months; nat-
visitors may enjoy cheese, bread from a small ural rind; hard, Italian pecorino-style;
6–8 pound wheel
artisan bakery, lamb and pork meat and • Feta. Aged twelve months; marinated in
sausage, maple syrup, and blueberry scones. olive oil with rosemary, garlic, bay leaf,
They use the cheese whey to fertilize the black peppercorns, sun-dried tomatoes,
and juniper berries
bushes and to feed the pigs! • Vermont Maiden. Aged six to nine months;
continued next page 50 percent sheep’s milk/50 percent goat’s
milk; natural rind; 2–5 pound round
• Ewe–Jersey. Aged three to nine months;
50 percent sheep’s milk/50 percent cow’s
milk; natural rind; 7–9 pound wheel
Where to find: On-premises retail, Brattleboro
farmers’ market and Co-op, and selected
retailers in Boston, New York, and San Diego

NEW ENGLAND • Vermont 81


01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:03 PM Page 82

PEAKED MOUNTAIN FARM continued

Ann and Bob Works like to experiment with their cheese, constantly searching for ways to capture the
farm’s terroir in their products. Their sheep eat lush grass flavored with wild mint, thyme, and other
herbs and spring flowers. Several years ago, they developed Ewe–Jersey, a mixed-milk cheese made
with equal amounts of sheep’s and cow’s milk. The cheese is complex, sweet, and nutty with notice-
able herbal tones. Serve with: Semi-dry still cider • Medium-bodied California Meritage blend • Amber
or brown ale

82 Vermont • NEW ENGLAND


02 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:13 PM Page 241

SHEPHERD’S WAY FARMS

hepherd’s Way Farms, owned by Jodi

S and Steven Read, is a place of


achievement, triumph, tragedy,
spirit, good stewardship, and great taste. In
Established: 1994
Owners and cheesemakers: Jodi Ohlsen Read
and Steven Read
Address: 8626 160th Street East, Nerstrand,
1994, they bought forty ewes for their farm, MN 55053
which is located about 50 miles south of Telephone: 507-663-9040
Minneapolis. Steven developed an interest in Email: farmfriends@earthlink.net
sheep while attending the University of Web site: www.shepherdswayfarms.com
Minnesota; the couple thought they would milk Visitors: Yes; Saturday, 9 am–12 pm or by
the sheep and sell the milk. An abundance of appointment
milk, however, caused them to look for other Types: Farmstead, seasonal, pasteurized and
raw East Friesian sheep’s milk
options. The university’s Ray Miller had
Varieties of cheese:
helped to establish that institution’s sheep • Friesago. Aged four to six months; semi-
cheese program, and he provided valuable hard, rich, nutty; waxed 10–12 pound
assistance in creating the recipe for Friesago (a wheels; ACS
• Friesago Reserve. Aged twelve months;
name that combines Friesian sheep and Asiago washed-rind, rubbed with olive oil, firm,
cheese). The success of Friesago led to addi- full, piquant flavor; 10–11 pound wheels
tional cheeses and an ever-expanding flock of • Big Woods Blue. Aged four to six months;
sheep, at one point numbering five hundred, natural rind, creamy, deep veining, complex
flavors; ACS
making Shepherd’s Way the second-largest • Shepherd’s Hope. Fresh; pasteurized milk,
sheep dairy in the United States. light, plain and herb-garlic; 3–4 pound
continued next page wheels; ACS
Awards: Numerous American Cheese Society
prizes
Where to find: Minneapolis–St. Paul metro
region and limited national distribution

UPPER MIDWEST • Minnesota 241


02 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:13 PM Page 242

SHEPHERD’S WAY FARMS continued

The Reads recognized that outstanding fire is still under investigation as possible
cheese is a product of well-managed pastures, arson. And although their insurance claim was
careful attention to animals, an understanding not resolved as of fall 2006, an outpouring of
of cheesemaking, and artistry. They succeeded support, money, time, and hard work have
with all these elements, setting a standard of helped bolster them. From local people to the
excellence while remaining committed to cre- University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary
ating a product that people could easily afford. Medicine to the American Cheese Society,
Sadly, one cold night in January 2005, a fire Slow Food USA chapters and cheese lovers,
destroyed a nursery building and killed two help has flowed in. In late 2006, Jodi and Steve
hundred lambs and three hundred ewes; the were looking for investor support.

Shepherd’s Hope cheese reflects the Reads’


tragedy in 2005. Shepherd’s Way has managed to
keep making cheese, although at lower production
levels. In a triumph of human spirit, determination,
and sheer will, they made cheese throughout 2006
and submitted a few wheels to the annual
American Cheese Society competition. Their Big
Woods Blue, a favorite of blue lovers, received a
First Place award—a tribute to great animals, loving
care and husbandry, and excellent skill in the
cheesemaking. The cheese is pure white with well-
defined blue veins, very creamy, and piquant with a
lingering warm, clean aftertaste. Find a wedge of
Big Woods Blue, the name of a local park beloved
by the Read children, and celebrate this Minnesota
farm family and the strength of Shepherd’s Way
Farm. Serve with: Still semi-sweet cider • Late-har-
vest Gewürztraminer • Double ale or Belgian-style ale

Additional Minnesota Cheesemakers


POPLAR HILL DAIRY GOAT FARM PRAIRIE HOLLOW FARM
Vincent Maefsky Pamela and David Benike
12521 Mayberry Trail North 15211 14th Street NE
Scandia, MN 55073 Dover, MN 55929
651-433-2684 507-932-4352
www.poplarhillfarm.com Farmstead cow’s milk cheese.
Goat cheese.

242 Minnesota • UPPER MIDWEST


01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:03 PM Page 94

VERMONT SHEPHERD

indy Major, the daughter of the owner

C of Oakhurst Dairy, grew up learning


about and consuming good dairy prod-
ucts. David was born on this farm and, after
Established: 1990
Owners: David Major and
Yesenia Ielpi
Cheesemaker: David Major
receiving a degree from Harvard, returned to
Address: 875 Patch Road,
Putney. Opened in 1990, Vermont Shepherd Putney, VT 05346
began inauspiciously, making cheese the Telephone: 802-387-4473
owners describe as “sawdust.” They journeyed Email: vtsheprd@sover.net
to the French Pyrenees, where they learned to Web site: www.vermontshepherd.com
make brebis, a typical Basque mountain sheep Visitors: No; a self-service cheese farmstand is
cheese, from the families of Luxi and Arno open daily
Oxanbarritz and Ferdinand Pujalet. And they Types: Farmstead, seasonal raw Dorset,
Friesian, and Tunis sheep’s milk
learned very well. Since 1993, Vermont
Varieties of cheese:
Shepherd has produced one of America’s best • Vermont Shepherd. Aged three to six
cheeses. The Majors were the first in Vermont months; natural rind, semi-firm; 8 pound
to construct a natural cave, which they dug wheel; ACS & USCCC
into a sheltered hillside on the farm, to mature Awards: Numerous prizes from U.S.
Championship Cheese Contest and
their cheese. American Cheese Society including a 2000
During the mid- to late 1990s, many American Cheese Society “Best in Show”
prospective cheesemakers apprenticed with award
the Majors as part of their Dairy Sheep Where to find: On-premises cheese stand, mail
order, and distributed nationwide, primarily
Education Center. For a period of time, these through specialty cheese stores
individuals—Mary Beth and Frankie Whitten,
Willow Smart, Ann and Bob Works, Gari and
Mark Fischer, and Neil Urie—made cheese for
Vermont Shepherd. Over the last few years,
these onetime apprentices have established
new businesses and today make their own
excellent sheep cheese. They are truly a testi-
mony to Cindy and David’s vision, commitment
to quality, and distinctive taste. In 2006, Cindy
left Vermont Shepherd for other pursuits, while
David and new partner Yesenia Ielpi continue
to make this American original.

94 Vermont • NEW ENGLAND


01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:03 PM Page 95

Vermont Shepherd is made only from mid-April to


October, when the sheep graze on fresh grasses and
wild herbs. Every other day, an affineur turns and
brushes each 7–9 pound wheel as it ages for four to
eight months on wooden shelves in a hillside cave
built in 1996. A mature Vermont Shepherd wheel has
a beautiful golden-brown, rustic, natural rind, and the
cheese itself has a smooth, creamy texture. The flavor
is sweet, rich, and earthy with hints of clover, wild
mint, and thyme. A very mature wheel develops a
firm, hard texture, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, with
similar flavor characteristics of caramel and fruit.
Serve with: Semi-dry sparkling hard cider • Grenache
or Riesling • Dobbelbock or Lambic-style fruit beer

NEW ENGLAND • Vermont 95


01 Cheese Atlas pgs final 4/18/07 2:04 PM Page 110

VALLEY SHEPHERD CREAMERY

lthough New Jersey has only a

A handful of small-scale cheese pro-


ducers, the state can lay claim to
some of America’s most innovative artisans.
Established: 1995
Owners and cheese-
makers: Eran and
Debra Wajswol
Address: 50 Fairmount
Eran and Debra Wajswol certainly fit this
Road, Long Valley, NJ 07853
description. Their vacations in Europe became
Telephone: 908-876-3200
penetrating introductions to the continent’s
Email: info@valleyshepherd.com
amazing cheese varieties and motivated them to Web site: www.valleyshepherd.com
make sheep cheese. In 1995, they opened Visitors: Yes; Thursday–Saturday, 10 am–5 pm;
Farmersville Cheeses in Hunterdon County in Sunday 11 am–5 pm
the northwest part of the state. Customers soon Types: Farmstead, seasonal, raw East Friesian
discovered their unique, traditionally based sheep’s milk and Jersey cow’s milk cheese
sheep cheeses, and demand soared. In 2005, Varieties of cheese (partial list):
Sheep’s milk
they moved 5 miles north to a 120-acre farm in • Oldwick Shepherd. Aged three months;
Long Valley. Here they built a remarkable thin, natural rind, smooth, earthy, fruity
underground cave by blasting 150 feet into a flavors; 5 pound wheel
• Shepherd’s Basket. Aged four to five
hillside. Located 16–20 feet underground, the months; natural rind with basket indenta-
vaulted cave measures 100 feet by 25 feet, and tions; sharp, tangy; 5 pound wheel
has separate rooms for aging hard, blue, soft • Ancient Shepherd. Aged twelve months;
ripened, and other cheeses! It even has a crusty natural rind, crumbly texture, deep
flavor; 4 pound wheel
viewing room for visitors to help educate them • Smokey Shepherd. Aged eight to fourteen
about traditional practices, stewardship, and months; brown sticky rind smoked over
taste. apple wood; 4 pound wheel
• Babaloo. Aged three months; sheep’s or
mixed milk, robust blue; 4 pound wheel
• Tartuffo Shepherd. Aged three months with
black Tuscan summer truffles; strong earthy
mushroom aroma and flavor; 5 pound wheel
Mixed sheep’s and cow’s milk
• Califon Tomme. Aged five to eight months;
natural rind, creamy, tangy; 12–30 pound
wheels
• Nettlesome. Aged five to eight months with
nettles; 12 pound wheel
• Carameaway. Aged five to eight months
While the Wajswols make more than a dozen with caraway; 12 pound wheel
cheeses, each handmade batch is a “limited • Fairmount. Aged nine to fifteen months;
edition.” As a seasonal dairy, they make natural rind, hard, smooth, dense, complex
cheese from May until late fall and then age flavor; 14–16 pound wheels
the wheels, with most becoming available the • Valley Thunder. Aged five to seven months;
following year. And when they arrive, they sell natural rind, hard, sharp; 13 pound wheel
out quickly. Their Oldwick Shepherd, made • Scent-sation. Aged four months, washed-
with sheep’s milk, is a mold-ripened firm rind, soft body, strong aroma and flavor
cheese with a pebbly-textured rind, smooth • Crème and Quark Series. Handmade, tradi-
paste, and complex aromas and flavors of tional fresh cream cheeses
• Ricotta Series. Fresh, sheep’s or cow-sheep
milk, caramel, nuts, and mushrooms. They
mixed whey; 1 pound container
make only twelve wheels at a time, and each
• Jersey Fresh Mixte. Pasteurized semi-hard
batch of cheese reflects different seasonal
cheese made and sold within twelve hours
pasture plants, daily weather changes, and of milking
other factors. These slight variations add to its
Where to find: On-premises retail, New York
distinctive, high-quality presence. Serve with:
City and New Jersey farmers’ markets, and
Semi-dry still cider • Zinfandel or medium-
regional and national distribution
bodied Syrah • Brown or red ale