In 2007, Tim and Liz Young quit their corporate careers and left behind their home in suburban Atlanta. Hoping to reconnect with the land, animals and food, they moved to rural Georgia and became first-time farmers.
Tim and Liz started milking cows and making cheese in 2010. They’d originally just wanted the whey to feed their rare breed Ossabaw Island pigs, but soon fell in love with the cheesemaking process. Today they make a variety of cheeses using only raw milk from their small herd of Jersey cows. The cows graze on organic grasses and hay, and have access to outdoor pastures each day of the year.
The Youngs focus on small batches of handmade cheese; milk is stirred by hand, curds are cut and hooped by hand, and aging wheels are brushed, washed, and turned by hand. Small-scale production, along with pasture-fed animals and the use of raw milk, ensures that these cheeses reflect the local terroir and the change of the seasons.
Fortsonia is an Alpine-style cheese inspired by Comté and Gruyère.
During production the curd is cut, heated to almost 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and then pressed under its whey prior to draining. After being molded, it’s pressed overnight, brined, and moved to an aging facility. The Youngs then periodically brush and turn the wheels, sometimes for a year or more.
Fortsonia comes in a few different variations: standard Fortsonia, aged 6 months or less; Fortsonia Reserve, aged 10 months or more; and Twisted Fortsonia, which is hand bathed in late harvest Scuppernong wine several times a week, and aged for a minimum of 4 months.
While aging Fortsonia becomes firm and dense, with nutty and sweet flavors, particularly notes of caramel and hazelnut. The longer it ages, the more nutty and complex the flavors become.
Sweet and nutty Fortsonia is versatile and pairs well with many wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, or Zinfandel. For a beer pairing, try a witbier spiced with coriander or orange, or a Geuze-style Lambic.