Working at Hotel Vermont does have its perks. We like to visit as many of our farmers, vendors and purveyors as possible, helping us to better relay the story behind each product to our guests. Every six weeks or so, we load up the van and set out to the back roads of Vermont for a staff field trip.
This trip we drove up to Greensboro in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, about a two-hour drive from Burlington, to meet with the folks at the award-winning cheese Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm, Todd Hardy from Honey Gardens, and the beer masters at Hill Farmstead Brewery.
Greeted by the sweet sounds of grazing cows, we pulled into Jasper Hill Farm to meet with their expert cheese makers. Jasper Hill Farm is a working farm with an on-site creamery that produces world-class cheese. The farm milks a herd of about 45 Ayrshire cows. Being a pasture dairy farm, the cows graze as the weather permits: roughly from May – October.
The Kehler brothers, Andy and Mateo, bought the Jasper Hill Farm in 1998 and have since learned the trade of farming and cheese making. The milk produced on the farm goes into batches of their cheese, however the Jasper Hill Creamery also uses milk from other Vermont farms (each cheese in their collection is made from a single herd of cows) to make their cheese well as using the cellars to store and age cheese made from the other dairies.
We toured the facilities and learned about the science behind the cheese-making process. Jasper Hill is on the cutting edge of cheese microbiology, working with scientists to help explore the microbial communities that help turn milk into cheese. We also learned about their new “Green Machine,” a process, which converts manure and compost into methane that then heats hot water for the building.
We visited six out of the seven cheese cellars. Each cellar houses specific cheeses, making sure that the temperature, humidity and microbes are perfectly conditioned to the cheese within. Cheeses mature differently based on the microbes in the air, so it’s important that the cheese does not become contaminated. Currently, the Cellars is producing twelve types of cheese using six producers and six herds. Their cheese is all cows milk-based and ranges from bleu cheese to French brie to an Alpine cheese. Most recently, Bayley Hazen Blue cheese has been named World’s Best Unpasteurized Cheese by a panel of international judges at the World Cheese Awards.
Thanks so much to the staff at Jasper Hill for hosting us! We hope to be back soon!