Cypress Grove Chevre is located in Humboldt County in the temperate Pacific Northwest coastal region of California. The origins of the business began during the 1970’s when the company’s founder, Mary Keehn, became interested in Alpine dairy goats while searching for a healthy source of milk for her young daughters. This resulted in the acquisition of two goats and from this small start, she quickly developed a passionate interest in breeding high quality Alpine goats. Within a few years, the size of Mary’s herd increased significantly and, finding herself with excess goat milk, she started experimenting with cheesemaking. By 1983 and with the beginnings of a regular customer base, she officially founded Cypress Grove Chevre. At the time, commercial goat cheese production was virtually unheard of in the US and Mary, along with a handful of other goat cheesemakers, was one of the first to spearhead the movement. As Cypress Grove grew, the challenges of managing the goats in addition to the cheesemaking became insurmountable. Therefore, the decision was made to sell the goats to a number of local farms with the arrangement to buy back the milk. Each dairy still operates under an incentive program, ensuring that consistently high quality milk is supplied back to Cypress Grove for cheesemaking. This arrangement allowed Mary to fully focus on the cheesemaking and to take the company forward. Until the early 1990’s Cypress Grove focused on fresher styles of goat’s milk cheeses. However, the successful creation of Humboldt Fog in 1992, helped pave the way for several other American Originals. As the company grew and expanded, Mary was approached with many acquisition offers. However, none of the proposals seemed an appropriate fit until August 2010 when she received a proposal from Emmi, a Swiss company, majority-owned by a cooperative of small farmers and dairy operators. Emmi committed to keep the company’s employees and headquarters in Humboldt County as well as maintaining Cypress Grove’s long-standing commitments with the community, environment and milk suppliers. Cypress Grove produces a variety of fresh, flavored chevres, each of which have their own distinct identity and name, mirroring the ingredients used as well as the company’s play on words. For production, milk is pasteurized in a vat where cultures and coagulants are then added. The mixture is moved to a curd press where the whey is drained. The curd is then mixed with salt and formed into disks. Herbs and other flavorings are added by hand. The disks are then vacuum sealed, labeled and sent directly to market without aging. Cypress Grove’s Fresh Chevre is available in several varieties; Ms Natural, Purple Haze, Herbs de Humboldt, Sgt Pepper and PsycheDillic that known collectively as the Flashback Family of Chevre. Sgt. Pepper is small disk is made with the addition of four exotic peppers, spices and chili threads that are blended into the cheese as well as being applied to the exterior.
The resulting flavors are pleasantly spicy and complex and visually very appealing.