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Oregon is in love with its cheesemakers. They give us magical offerings like Rogue River Blue — a flavorful, blue veined cow’s milk cheese from Rogue Creamery. And there’s Siltcoos from Rivers Edge Chévre, a creamy goat cheese adorned with fern fronds.

Winning hearts and mouths across the state, the two creameries are also winning national awards at recent competitions like the American Cheese Society Competition and Good Food Awards. And they are just two of 16 artisan cheesemakers in the Oregon Cheese Guild. From chevre to Gouda and blue cheese to queso fresco, Oregon’s cheesemakers are building a tradition of superior cheesemaking.

Many people take their affection beyond eating. “You think, ‘Well, I am just going to be in the back making my cheese and then take it to the farmers market,” said Vern Caldwell, vice president of Oregon Cheese Guild and owner of Pholia Farm. “But then you realize that customers are really interested in your lifestyle.”

Caldwell in particular should not be surprised that people are attracted to his farm. For one thing, Pholia is off the grid, working from a hybrid of solar and micro-hydro. For another, he’s got a herd of 70 adorable Nigerian Dwarf goats.

For the farm curious, Pholia gives tours, as do Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Tillamook Cheese and Rogue Creamery. Caldwell said many other guild members offer tours by appointment, and that the membership has a growing interest in agri-tourism.

For a complete slice of Oregon’s cheese world, don’t miss the Oregon Cheese Guild’s annual Wedge Festival on Oct. 8 at the Green Dragon in Southeast Portland. In spring, take in the annual Oregon Cheese Festival, which will be held March 17, 2012, at Rogue Creamery in Central Point.

See Chef Cathy Whims make artisan cheese and Chef Gabe Rucker visit Rogue Creamery.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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