A little information about some of the many wonderful, dedicated producers around the world whose beautiful cheese we stock.
Barossa Artisan Cheese
While working as a winemaker in Bordeaux, Victoria McClurg became so inspired by the tradition of cheese making, that she returned to Australia determined to produce regional cheeses from the Barossa Valley. After studying the art of cheese making, Victoria with the support of her family, opened The Barossa Valley Cheese Company in the main street of Angaston in March 2003. Victoria produces a range of goat and cow milk cheeses made from locally sourced milk using non animal rennet. This cheese business has become an integral part of the Barossa Valley's food and wine culture.
Originally they created a gorgeous garden on part of the street frontage next to the cellar door, which delighted the community and visitors alike. Recently, this has necessarily been sacrificed in order to expand the factory, to keep up with the growing demand for Barossa Valley Cheese. Victoria and her team are always seeking innovative ideas and refining traditional methods in cheese making.
We now have our own range under the Barossa Artisan Cheese label and are working towards adding new products, starting with a Geo that is washed with Heggies Riesling which will make its debut for Christmas 2016. The range will continue to evolve, and with the expansion of the facilities allowing more room for maturation, we can expect to see interesting new products from this local producer.
With the renovations has come a new, stylish and wonderfully interactive cellar door. Well worth a visit anytime you are in the Barossa.
Hervé Mons Fromager Affineur
In 1964, Hubert Mons and his wife decided to sell cheese at the markets in and around Roanne. As they were from Auvergne, it seemed an obvious thing to do, given the strong cheese influence of people from that region! While they made their rounds in the countryside with their cheese van, their small business began to grow. In 1983, Hervé, the eldest son, after having worked for wellknown cheesemongers in Paris, set up the first shop in the Halles Diderot in the Roanne city center. Other shop openings followed in Renaison and Montbrison. Hervé was already sourcing products from many of the best French cheese makers to create an exceptional range. His brother Laurent joined Hervé, taking over the running of the shops allowing Hervé, to let his entrepreneurial spirit run wild. He created the maturing cellars in Saint-Haon-le-Châtel and began the exportation of products to a wide range of destinations.
The company is now trading with more than 20 countries (Europe, the USA, Asia, Japan and many others). In 2000, Hervé was awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Artisan Craftsman of France). In 2001, Mons created the training center Opus Caseus Concept, under the responsibility of Laurent Mons. Hervé and Laurent were voted “Cheesemongers of the Year” by the gastronomy guide Pudlo France in 2002. In 2005 they organised the first international cheesemonger competition “International Caseus Award” where 12 countries competed. Hervé travels all over France in search of the best products and for producers who still work with traditional methods with the utmost respect for ancient and forgotten artisanal know-how. These cheeses are then matured in his cellars. Maturing remains the heart of the trade. In 2009, an old railway tunnel was renovated into exceptional maturing cellars. This enables the company to continue to offer an exclusive range of products. Today, there are 28 people working in the cellars, 155 national clients, 25 importing countries, 130 farmstead producers and 5 shops in France, one shop in London and about 190 different cheeses maturing day and night
Alexandrina Cheese Company
The McCaul family began making cheese in 1902 and third generation Dan McCaul and his family are continuing the tradition of manufacturing premium quality cheeses in the purpose built cheese factory at Mt. Jagged, nestled in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.
Each day starts with rich, creamy milk from eighty, well-loved and individually named Jersey cows. They graze on long green clover pasture grown on the rolling hills of the family farm, supplemented with milled barley, silage and hay. The cows are fit, healthy and happy! They calve once per year in either Autumn or Spring, and enter the dairy for a lactation lasting about 300 days per year. The cows are milked twice a day we milk providing, on average, 20 litres of delightful rich, creamy milk. Worldwide the Jersey cow is renowned for a high content of protein and butterfat, perfect milk for cheese-making.
Using traditional methods of cheese making and exclusive starter cultures, they focus mostly on semi hard styles like Edam and Gouda and on course their award winning Cheddars. The flavour of these handmade cheeses may vary in flavour seasonally, due to subtle changes in the flavour of the Jersey milk, and the weekly turn of the cheese makers hands. The cheese maker then waits patiently for the cheese to mature before stamping the Alexandrina brand onto it. This quality check gives a seal of approval to each individual wheel.
For thousands of years the Onkaparinga River (“The Women’s River”) carved its way through the Mt Lofty Ranges, birthing spectacular gorges and fertile valleys. Today, it’s the second largest river within the Adelaide region, and a vital source of drinking water to the city. The Onkaparinga Creamery calls this pristine environment home, with the cheese factory located directly over this significant estuary.
The Onkaparinga Creamery is housed within the heritage listed Lobethal Woollen Mill complex which started its life as a brewery in 1851 and operated as a woollen mill through the 1900’s. Now our cheese makers continue the legacy of skilled craftsmanship - ensuring our beautiful surrounds remain in pristine condition and able to provide bountiful produce for many years to come.
For many years they have specialised in hand crafting white mould, blue vein and fresh cheeses using both goat and cow milk sourced from local family farms throughout the regions.
Section 28 Artisan Cheese
Section28 Artisan Cheeses is a new small cheese making business started by Kym Masters. It has been meticulously planned at every stage with clear goals for development into the future. He is dedicated to achieving absolute excellence in all areas of the business from the raw materials used and production processes to the way it is presented to the consumer. His aim is to produce hard and semi-hard artisan cheeses that quintessentially capture the local terroir.
Our first meeting with Kym came as a result of courses run by the Australian Cheese Making Academy of Australia (ACMAA) at Regency Park. He was clearly passionate about creating products of the highest possible quality with the aim to create distinctly Australian cheese using techniques perfected by generations of European cheese makers.
He had been to France to learn from Master Craftsmen experienced in making traditional mountain style cheese. In particular, he visited the Coopérative de Grande Rivière, located in a tiny hamlet just off one of the main country roads that cut across the mountains from Dijon to Geneva. There the Coopérative specialised in the production of Comté and Morbier. It is also one of the few coopératives that produce, age and sell the cheese, all on the same premises. The perfect training ground.
On his return, he began by conducting trials of products that he planned to make his signature cheeses. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to see the evolution through a series of tastings that were held to assess ways of improving each batch. It has been a joy to watch the development and the constant improvement of each batch over many months.
At the same time he found a source of the very best milk in the Adelaide Hills and then a property nearby which has become his base. He has started by using two shipping containers. One is fitted out for the cheese making processes and the other as a maturing room with plans to extend into a third container as the need arises.
We had the opportunity to take a trial wheel that was produced in July 2014 and look after it in our own beautiful maturing room, where it lived for over a year with other similar style cheeses from all over the world. Last week (early November 2015) we sat down with Kym to taste this Monforte trial wheel, which had been aged for a total of 15 months. The result was better than we had anticipated, but now it is a waiting game. The first six month old wheels have arrived and we will select some to mature on for a further 6-9 months for sale at 12-15 months of age. These wheels will be tended lovingly every week in our maturing room, to ensure the best possible development of flavour while retaining the moist texture of this cheese. Patience is required but it will definitely be worth the wait. We will let you know when the first aged wheel is ready to go.
Production for sale began in earnest in May 2015 and Monforte and Mont Priscilla have now been released. Mont Priscilla is matured for five months and the Monforte for six months. Plans are now underway for the next addition to the range. Today we have added these two beautiful new cheese to our range on the website so you can all experience these exciting new Adelaide Hills Cheeses from Section 28.
Pyengana Dairy Trading
Pyengana is an Aboriginal word meaning the meeting of two rivers and Pyengana Dairy Trading sits in a lush river valley favoured by dairy farmers. The Healey Family has been producing cheddar in the Pyengana Valley in north east Tasmania, for three generations - over one-hundred years.
Jon was the youngest of 5 children to dairy farming parents in the lush, green valley of Pyengana. Cheese making was in his blood as his Grandfather; Terry Healey was an Assistant Cheese maker in the old Pyengana Co-Operative factory. This factory closed in the 1950’s and small cheese factories sprung up around the community as Pyengana cheese was already well known nationally. Terry and a neighbour pooled their milk, and together made cheese on the neighbour’s farm for many years.
At 16 Jon enrolled as an Apprentice Dairy Farmer and embarked on a 4 year apprenticeship on the family farm. The final unit in the Apprenticeship was creating a financial model in which the current farm operated. It quickly became apparent why his wages had never increased – there was literally no money. Both his mother and father had taken work off the farm to allow him to finish his course. The Apprenticeship proved to Jon that value adding was the only way forward for the farm and the family and cheese making was (in his mind) the only option.
All the little cheese factories in the valley had since closed when Pasteurisation became law in Tasmania, in 1991. This big financial investment was restrictive to the old farmers and most sadly closed. By 1990 Jon had sold everything he owned, even his car, to then girlfriend Lyndall, to finance the building of the factory and purchase the equipment needed to make cheese. This equipment was found on farms all over the state and the first batch of Pyengana Cheese was recreated in February 1992.
Jon now operates Pyengana Dairy Company with his wife Lyndall, their three daughters and around 25 staff. He has been tempted to play with other styles of cheese, but it always comes back to the Pyengana way. The cheese vats have been upgraded to pass modern day specifications, but they are still the vats from well over 100 years ago. The presses are also well over 100 years old. The cheese making technique hasn’t changed since before his grandfather’s day. It is still a physically challenging cheese to make.
All the milk for Pyengana Cheese comes from the single herd of cows on the farm. Pyengana Dairy are responsible for the entire production lifecycle, from pasture to cows and milk to cheese.
La Vera has been operating in South Australia since 1984. Established in Adelaide by cheese maker Pino Marmorale and his wife Giovanna, originating from Southern Italy, La Vera now has several members of the next generation involved in all aspects of the business. Both daughters, Lucy and Sabrina, and son-in-law Nick are invloved in the family business, which contributes to their ongoing success. Nestled near the foothills of Adelaide, La Vera is a boutique factory producing a unique range of handcrafted specailty cheeses using only the freshest, carefully selected local milk. They now produce an extensive range and one of the most popular is Adel Blue. This year saw them again win multiple awards at The SA Dairy awards.