Grafton Village Cheese Wins Big at World Cheese Awards with New Cave Aged Cheeses
Recently Grafton Village Cheese Company in Grafton, Vermont, rolled out a new, cave-aged line of cheeses made by the talented young cheesemaker Dane Huebner.
Before Dane arrived, cheddar was what Grafton was about, selling their blocks and rounds in traditional black, green or red wax, depending on the age of the cheese. Dane, formerly of Georgia's Flat Creek Lodge and Wisconsin's Cedar Grove, shook things up by building new aging caves and creating new cheeses employing sheep's milk, a major departure from cow-based cheddars. When I was visiting the creamery this summer, I was treated to some of Dane's new cheeses, and left very impressed.
Apparently the judges at the World Cheese Awards agreed with me, because Grafton won five medals this year, a gold for their Vermont Clothbound Cheddar, and four bronze medals for their sheep's milk creations—the mixed-milk Barndance and Shepsog along with all-sheep Truffled Bismark and washed-rind Red Vask. No small feat when competing with the best from hundreds of makers from around the world.
I checked in with Dane post-awards to learn more about his cheeses and see how he's feeling with so many medals under his belt:
Culture: Hurricane Irene did a number on Grafton, did any of your cheeses suffer from the flooding, during or after?
Dane: Luckily no. Nothing did. We had some of our storage boxes that got wet but all our cheeses were safe. We were very lucky.
Culture: How did you come up with the names for your medal-winning Shepsog, Bismark and Red Vask?
Dane: There’s a story behind each one! Shepsog means sheep in indigenous Native American Algonquian. Bismark is named for a legendary and majestic Vermont ram from the late 19th century. Red Vask, Vask means “wash” in Danish.
Culture: What kind of solution is the Red Vask washed in?
Dane: A bacteria and yeast brine solution; and with this particular recipe it produces red pigments.
Culture: Do you have a favorite amongst your cave aged cheeses?
Dane: My favorite right now is Shepsog, followed by Clothbound. It changes all the time.
Culture:. Do you have plans to add more cheeses to your cave aged line?
Dane: Absolutely. We just added two (the Red Vask and Shepsog) and three more are in the pipeline. I’m always trying new recipes with sheep and cows milk. And I have New England goat milk coming in January that I look forward to experimenting with.
Culture: Can you sum up your sentiments on your recent World Cheese Awards?
Dane: Even winning anything at that event is amazing. To win five? It’s mindblowing.
Written by Eilis Maynard