Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Katie Carter, cheesemonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)
Jasper Hill Farm, the innovative and progressive farmstead cheesemakers and cheese agers out of Greensboro, Vermont have taken the coveted Best of Show award from the 2013 American Cheese Society Conference for their washed rind cheese, Winnimere. The competition was held in Madison, Wisconsin last week in conjunction with many cheese educational sessions and seminars.
Winnimere, a soft, raw cow’s milk cheese that’s wrapped in Spruce bark, bested over 1,700 other cheeses to take this top award. That sounds incredible but it doesn’t surprise this cheesemonger. Jasper Hill Farm is at the forefront of the American artisanal cheese movement and have deserved this honor for years. The enterprise was started in 2003 by brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler who wanted to created an honest and meaningful livelihood in a place where more farms were closing than thriving. They settled on raising Ayrshire cows and turning the milk into handcrafted farmstead cheese and by doing so, created a successful model for other local farms to follow.
Today, Jasper Hill Farm is well known for its high quality and delicious cheese. Their lineup of cheeses is diverse and includes some produced with raw milk and some made only seasonally. Winnimere is one of their cheeses only produced with high fat and protein-rich winter milk, so unfortunately, we all have to wait a few more months to enjoy it again.
What makes Jasper HIll Farm so successful is their ability to constantly adapt and evolve. I have had the immense pleasure of tasting Jasper Hill Farm’s evolution over the years. Some cheeses, including one of my all time favorites, Constant Bliss, have sadly disappeared while others, including Winnimere, have greatly improved.
The farm is also known for their affinage (cheese aging) program and underground caves. In addition to aging their own cheeses in their 22,000 square foot caves, Jasper Hill brings in other farms’ cheeses so they may be professionally aged and properly distributed. This practice is almost unheard of in the States but is very common in Europe.
Lastly, the people of this farm are simply exceptional cheese professionals and care deeply about the growth of the artisanal cheese movement in the States. They are outstanding farmers, producers, and agers. If you come across their cheese, enjoy it knowing that it was made and aged by some of the most dedicated and skilled craftsmen in the country.
Katie Carter is Arlington’s first and only ACS Certified Cheese Professional. She has worked in the cheese industry for ten years as a cheesemaker, cheesemonger, and educator. She can be found on Twitter @AfinaCheese. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.