The Great Northeast Cheese & Dairy Fest Featured Producer: Jasper Hill Farm (Greensboro, VT)
Brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler bought their dairy farm in northern Vermont in 1998. Five years later, after fixing the barn and building a creamery and underground aging cave, they made their first batch of cheese.
In 2014, their cheese was on the state dinner menu when French President François Hollande visited The White House.
Along with the spot on the presidential table, Jasper Hill Farm has picked up a collection of top awards, including six Best of Class awards from the World Championship Cheese Contest, two Best of Show awards from the American Cheese Society and nine gold or super gold awards from the World Cheese Awards.
Jasper Hill stands out not only for its award-winning cheese, but for its unique partnerships and technological innovation. Monger Liaison Molly Browne said that of Jasper Hill’s 11 cheeses, six are made from their own dairy herd, while the other five are made from partner producers.
The farm’s signature cheese, a clothbound cheddar aged between nine and 14 months, was developed in 2003 as a partnership between Jasper Hill and Cabot Creamery. While Cabot could boast a large milk supply from its 1,100 co-op farmers and widespread brand recognition, its facilities were geared toward keeping the mold off the cheese.
Growing a natural rind was something only the aging caves at Jasper Hill could offer. That first batch of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar won Best of Show at the 2006 American Cheese Society Conference. On the heels of that award, the Kehlers added a seven-vault facility, measuring a whopping 22,000 square feet.
Jasper Hill has also added its own microbiology lab, a waste treatment center that uses compost to heat a greenhouse and is raising a drove of whey-fed, pasture-raised heritage breed pigs. The farm also added the first European-style hay dryer in North America, a step Browne said will help the farm in its transition to using only non-GMO feed.
As of now, three of Jasper Hill’s cheeses are non-GMO, including the Bayley Hazen Blue that was served at The White House.
“One of our tenets is to be the standard bearer for innovation in our industry,” Browne said. Along with the cellaring facility—The Cellars at Jasper Hill—the farm keeps a herd of about 50 Ayrshire cows, a breed prized for the high fat content of its milk. In late 2014, Jasper Hill purchased neighboring Andersonville Farm, a dairy farm of about 180 Holsteins.
The three cheeses Jasper Hill is presenting at the Great Northeast Cheese & Dairy Fest—Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Bayley Hazen Blue and Harbison, a soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese wrapped in spruce cambium, the inner layer of the bark, and aged up to 13 weeks—pair well with each other and best represent Jasper Hill’s offerings, Browne said. “They’re our most outstanding cheeses in our collection.” Browne declined to name specifics, but said Jasper Hill has “big plans and new products” in store for the future. Stay tuned.
To learn more about The Great Northeast Cheese & Dairy Fest and to purchase tickets, please visit here.