As the great grandson of a Swiss-trained cheesemaker, Chris Roelli, co-owner and master cheesemaker at Roelli Cheese Haus, always wondered why his family’s company only produced English-style cheeses.
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.”