Haystack Mountain profile; Goat milk kefir from Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery  

In 1989, Jim Schott left his job in education to become a goat dairyman and successful cheesemaker. Jim, who grew up on a Colorado cow dairy, wanted to work with animals, and a visit to a goat dairy convinced him that a cheese operation might fit well with his plans. He and his family started with five goats on their 7-acre farm in Niwot, about 10 miles northeast of Boulder. An opportunity to buy another twenty animals moved them quickly into educating themselves about cheese, and planning and construction a new dairy. Just as they were ready to launch, tragedy struck when Jim’s wife Arlene died of cancer. With support from the family, and his goats, Jim moved forward with the project.

In 1992, Haystack made their first cheese, only to find the world didn’t exactly beat a path to their door. However, daughter Gretchen’s hard work and enthusiastic style eventually got the cheese into the state’s specialty food stores and restaurants. For the next decade, the company expanded, added new products, and extended its distribution network. One important consequence of this growth is that, several years ago, employees stepped forward as investors to help stabilize the company’s financial picture. In 2004, the demands for increased production led to a new creamery in Longmont, a few miles up the road from the original farm. Here they make fresh cheese such as Boulder Chèvre, while in Niwot they produce aged cheeses from Haystack Peak to Queso de Mano.

In 2007, Haystack moved to a new farm in Boulder County, and this year plans to open a new creamery. As the only remaining dairy in the county, its employee owners and the community have a stake in the farm’s future. The new 80-acre farm provides plenty of space for a large herd and continued diversity of the product line. In 2007 the company constructed a goat cheese creamery at the Pontotoc Area Vocational Technical School in Ada, Okla., to expand production and support the region’s excellent local goat dairies.

Haystack Peaks is one of the company’s farmstead products; the milk comes from the original Niwot farm and the cheese is made on-site. After the curds are cultured and cut, they drain in cheesecloth bags and then are hand-ladled into molds, where they sit for two days. The pyramid-shaped cheese, named after nearby Haystack Mountain with its black color, is sprinkled with ash and aged for twelve days. After wrapping, the cheese may age further; the center becomes firmer while underneath the rind it becomes runny as the flavors intensify.

Contributed by Jeffrey Roberts, author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese.

Goats Milk Kefir Introduced by Redwood Hill Farm

SEBASTOPOL, CA-Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery has added the first goat milk kefir in North America to its award-winning line of natural goat milk products.

Considered a “super food” in the dairy case, Redwood Hill’s 100% fresh goat milk kefir is cultured with a custom blend of 10 kefir probiotics. A great source of calcium, protein and essential minerals, this goat milk kefir is easily digested and can be enjoyed by many who may be lactose intolerant. Like all of Redwood Hill’s natural goat milk products, their kefir is kosher certified and free of sugar, coloring, preservatives, stabilizers or powdered milk.

A family farm started by the Bice family in 1968, Redwood Hill has been owned and operated by Jennifer Lynn Bice since 1978. Redwood Hill Farm’s Goat Milk Kefir will be available in Whole Foods markets and independent natural food stores nationwide.

Fiscalini Alpine-Style Lionza Wins Big at California's State Fair

Up against some of the stiffest statewide commercial cheese competition, Fiscalini Cheese Company’s Alpine style Lionza cheese won Best of Division (semi-hard cheese) at the California State Fair recently, and then went on to receive the prestigious Best of Show title, a unanimous decision of the judges.  All 140 entries were evaluated on the basis of flavor, texture, body, finish and color.

Named for a tiny hamlet in the Swiss Alps-where John Fiscalini’s ancestors began making cheese 300 years ago-Lionza has a sweet, milky, caramel-like flavor, making it ideal for cooking or snacking.  Straw-like in color, Lionza has a natural thin, hard rind, is aged six months and comes in 26-pound wheels (slightly larger than traditional Swiss).  This is one of several award-winners created by Fiscalini’s world-renowned master cheesemaker, Mariano Gonzalez.

Said John Fiscalini, “We’re deeply committed to producing some of the finest cheeses in the world and very proud to represent California in this endeavor.  Lionza is the direct result of our family’s Swiss lineage, so it has special significance to our cheese-making team.  This is the third major award for our Lionza and it feels like we’ve won the Triple Crown.”