Childhood memories of local cheeses made in the Savoie region of the French Alps were a strong pull for Carine Goldin of Goldin Artisan Cheese, headquartered in Molalla, OR. Her formative years spent there with her cheese-loving grandmother, nearby dairy farms and creameries making local favorites like Tomme de Savoie, Raclette and Tome des Bauges stoked a taste for interesting, full-flavored cheese.
Humility is among the core values Chief Executive Jim Sartori lists as central to his family-owned cheese business, Sartori Co. But maintaining that tenet is no simple feat for a business that’s made a name for itself by producing some of the world’s best cheeses.
In March, Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano was named the best cheese in the country, outscoring more than 2,000 entries from 33 states. The cheese headed up a laundry list of Wisconsin-made cheeses that earned top honors in the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
It wasn’t sisters lynn giacomini stray, Diana Giacomini Hagan and Jill Giacomini Basch’s intention to return to the family farm where they grew up in Northern California’s West Marin. But it makes plenty of sense that they did end up here — Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. is a sort of magical place. The farm is about 40 miles north of San Francisco, perched on Tomales Bay, which opens dramatically onto the Pacific Ocean. In the morning, the pristine air becomes dense with the Pacific coastal fog that settles over and lightly salts the pastures of the Giacomini dairy. The ocean views are stunning, and rye grasses grow tall.
When I arrive at Sprout Creek Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley just outside of Poughkeepsie, it’s snowing for the first time this season. The grey sky blankets the farm’s rolling 200 acres with gentle white flurries. The last of fall’s vibrant foliage blazes from the trees. It’s gorgeous here.
Shepherd’s Way Farm, a farmstead sheep dairy and creamery, conjures images of the ancient pastoral seasonal rhythm that has guided our collective agrarian history. Flocks of animals are grazing, moving from pasture to pasture, gathering sustenance and producing milk that would nourish the community in coming seasons.
Nestled in the shadow of Mount Adams, about 20 miles north of the Columbia River, sits the tiny town of Trout Lake, WA, population 557. Here, Cascadia Creamery, is reviving a cheesemaking tradition that dates back 125 years.
No doubt about it, this is rural country. The White Salmon River runs, wild and scenic, next to the highway that takes you up nearly 2,000 feet into the high country.
For Andy Hatch, there is an image that sticks in his mind: Last spring, his wife, Caitlin, and their farming partner, Liana Mericka, cared for the nearly 200 calves born on Uplands’ farm in April and May, while simultaneously nurturing their own babies. Liana had her infant strapped on her back, while Caitlin’s toddler slept close-by.
It pulls together themes in Hatch’s life as a parent, husband, farmer, businessman and cheesemaker — such as dedication and renewal. There is an easy analogy to be made regarding the round-the-clock commitment needed in both endeavors: raising a child and running a dairy farm, he says.
Unless you’re a professional rally racer, the crushed gravel road leading to Capriole Goat Cheeses forces you to drive at about 10 mph. The unusually harsh winter of 2014 pocked the soft road with holes, which are now brimming with grey water from recent rains. A dense stand of trees concealing Judy Schad’s award-winning cheese operation leaves one guessing around which corner it’ll appear.
“We thought it would be neat to get away from the city when we bought this place,” says Schad, who moved to Greenville, Ind., four decades ago. “What were we thinking, right? We’re so close to Louisville, KY., but you would think we lived in no-man’s-land.”