From the moment we opened our (virtual) doors, we’ve always been passionate about the cheese that we sell. And so we are vigilant about the cheesemakers that we support. We ensure that we’re sourcing only the finest Australian (and international) cheeses made by artisan cheesemakers. We are proud of our reputation as one of the premier online cheese shops in Australia, and we protect that reputation fervently. We never want to disappoint any of our customers with average, factory-produced cheese (blergh).
At any one time we carry over 60 different cheeses, all hand selected (and tasted) to ensure that they’re incredibly delicious examples of their style. But that’s just the first step. We also ensure they meet all our other important requirements. But what are those requirements? How do we choose our cheesemakers?
How We Choose Our Cheesemakers
They take pride in their produce.
Every one of our producers take great pride in their cheese. It’s not merely an economic exercise for them, but a true labour of love. This means that the day-to-day practice of cheesemaking becomes something more to them – a rite, a ceremony, a privilege. The master cheesemakers are intimately involved with the growing seasons, the milk production, the happy cows and goats. They test and try, and test and try again, to find the right time to milk, the right animals and the right style of cheese to showcase their particular circumstances (environment, climate, animal breeds, history, culture, for example).
Bream Creek Dairy is one of our newest cheese producers, but certainly they’re leading the pack in terms of the pride they take in their work. They’ve been farming their land for three generations, but have only been producing cheese for the last three years. But in that time they’ve gone on to produce and perfect four varieties of fine artisan cheese with values and standards you can taste.
They involve their community.
Our cheesemakers don’t just create their produce in a vacuum. They involve their community. They hire locals and sell at the weekend markets. They buy the milk from the community, and give back by educating interested people on how to sustainably produce beautiful cheese with traditional methods. They treat cheesemaking like what it is – a skill to be passed on and enjoyed, not guarded or hoarded. From cutting generous samples to giving tours of their facilities, our artisanal producers are open and willing to build up the community while building up their own brand.
An excellent example of this is Milawa Cheese Co., who are committed to their local community. In fact, they’ve developed close working relationships with their local area farmers to support and access their high-quality, clean and fresh milk from the cows and goats that happily graze the lush pastures of the King Valley and Victorian High Country.
Passion for their animals and the environment.
We always support cheesemakers with a strong passion for the environment and their animals. We choose artisanal and small holding producers because they utilise the traditional farming and production practices that create unique and delicious cheeses in a sustainable manner, as supported by cutting-edge technology.
Some of the factors we consider are environmental, ethical and economic, and we always ensure that they’re getting their milk from happy animals.
When it comes to the environment and animals, Apostle Whey is a standout. Just a short drive from Victoria’s Twelve Apostles, Apostle Whey cheeses are completely handmade from the milk from their herd of Aussie Red / Jersey cows. And their two biggest passions are sustainable farming and boutique, artisan produce.
Another great example is Pecora Dairy. The Cains (owners of Pecora) have raised a pure flock of East Friesian sheep which they believe straddle their requirements for sustainability, optimum milk quality and suitability to the often harsh conditions that the Southern Highlands can produce.
Small artisan Australian producers.
All of our Australian producers (though we love our international producers, too), are small, artisan cheesemakers, and we support that wholeheartedly. Traditionally, Australia has been a factory-cheese consuming country. Blocks of Tasty and Extra-Tasty cheeses remain the norm. But now we’re having a beautiful uprising of traditional cheese producers, who are bringing us all the European cheeses and styles that we previously could only have tasted abroad (or from very expensive fromageries).
These artisans make small batches of cheese by hand using minimal automation. They may use milk produced on their own farm by their own livestock to create farmhouse cheese or purchase milk from a nearby farmer. They then wrangle the technical competencies and the creative artistry to produce beautiful, unique, high-quality cheeses unlike anything else.
Though there are too many of our beautiful cheesemakers to feature, give our monthly Therapy Box a try. We guarantee you’ll be blown away by the artisanal cheeses being made in your own backyard.
OK, we love our international makers, too.
Just because we focus on Australian producers doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the beautiful cheeses that come from around the world. When we choose an international cheese maker we ensure they meet the same standards as our Australian cheesemakers. Taste, of course, but also sustainable, ethical practices, a love and passion for what they do and the desire to create something beautiful and unique.
We are lucky that one of our mates, Will Studd, happens to also be the top cheese guru in the world. If you haven’t watched his show, Cheese Slices, check it out! Will’s wine friends wanted a cheese that was not “goaty” like many of the other soft goats cheeses that were out there. Will being Will, accepted the challenge and worked with a producer in the village of Pelussin in the Rhone Valley of south-eastern France to create a non-‘bucky’ goats milk cheese that would suit a great Sav Blanc of Pinot Noir. And that well-thought out, unique approach is just what we look for in our international cheeses.
We love our cheesemakers, and we guarantee you will, too. Shop the online store today to support our family owned, artisanal makers. Tastes good and feels good, too.