Production of Tarentaise at Spring Brook began after neighbors, John and Janine Putnam of Thistle Hill Farm, traveled to France looking for a cheese that would suit the milk of their herd of Jersey cows in combination with Vermont's climate. After much research and help from a French cheesemaker, they developed a semihard cheese and named it Tarentaise, after the valley in the French Alps which inspired it.
As demand for their cheese grew, John and Janine collaborated with Spring Brook Farm and the Farms for City Kids Foundation to build on their Tarentaise cheesemaking process.
Spring Brook Farm, owned by Jeremy Stephenson, is a traditional dairy farm located in Reading, Vermont. The farm spans more than 1,000 acres and is home to 100 registered Jersey cows. The 42 milking cows produce over 600,000 lbs. of milk each year, now used to make the artisanal Tarentaise Cheese.
Spring Brook's Tarentaise is made from fresh, raw milk pumped directly from the milking barn adjacent to the creamery, into double twin copper vats. These vats are almost identical to the single one used at Thistle Hill and were imperative for Tarentaise originator John Putnam (at Thistle Hill) as the project developed.
After coagulation, the curds and whey are moved to the gravity-fed molds by means of a vacuum system, identical to the small to medium sized producers of the Savoie and Franche-Comté. Molds are filled two by two and moved to an adjacent press after draining.
After pressing, the cheeses are brined and ready for aging in Spring Brook's aging room, adjacent to the make (production) room.
Cheeses have the classic nuttiness of a traditional Alpine cheese, with complex layers of flavor, underscored with herbaceous, savory, vegetal notes.
Spring Brook's Tarentaise is slightly firmer that the Tarentaise from Thistle Hill, a difference Jeremy puts down to the singularity of milk from the herd and pasture.