February 19, 2008
Cheese Week is the Best Kind of Week
Posted by David Zaring

Gordon is in Wisconsin, conducting a survey of cheeseries, and I think it's fair to say that some people associated with this blog are pretty envious.  My family happily received an airmailed wheel of Christmas Stilton from the UK, long before cheese was cool, but also long before I could reconcile myself to the idea of mold in my food.

Now I love the stuff.  Should I move to the country and start producing my own?  One Hudson Valley cheesemaker made his fortune first:

For Tom and Nancy Clark, an investment banker and an interior designer, the transition from weekenders to owners of the largest dairy sheep farm in the country began in 1979, when they bought property in Old Chatham, N.Y. ...[I]n 1993, the couple bought 600 acres nearby and began building barns for what is now the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, a storybook complex of a creamery and 1,200 crossbred Friesian dairy sheep, which produce sheep's-milk yogurt and 10 cheeses that are sold nationwide in cheese shops and whole foods markets.

Mr. Clark still commutes a few days a week to his investment firm in Greenwich, Conn., but "the rest of the time I'm here haying and driving tractors."

While another West Coast cheesemaker embraced the very concept of fortune reluctantly:

''I didn't believe in capitalism,'' [Stephen] Schack said, ''but my ideals have changed over 20 years.'' After studying cheese-making in France, the two came back to their Redwood Hill Farm in Sebastopol, on a hidden road overlooking Iron Horse Vineyards. Although they have been making goat's cheese for only three years, their Camembert-style Camellia is a standout.

And here's how some Texas A&M economists estimated the impact of a potential Texas panhandle cheese factory:

• Operation of the cheese plant creates 857 jobs in Lubbock county, 125 directly in the plant.
• County population increases by 935.
• School children increase by 210.
• Labor force increases by 614, net in-commuting increases by 116, and 127 unemployed take jobs.
• The county property tax base increases by $109.5 million.
• Tax revenues for all jurisdictions in the county increase by $2.28 million annually (nominal dollars).
• Inter-governmental revenues increase by $.45 million annually for all jurisdictions in the county (nominal dollars).

UPDATE: And here's the Times on the market niches for micro-dairies serving up everything but cheese: yogurt, butter, custard, ice cream ... yum!

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