Want to see cheese making in action? At Pholia Farm Goat Cheese Dairy, visitors love touring the off-the-grid site, which runs on a hybrid of solar and micro-hydro power. If you’re lucky, you may meet the herd of 70 adorable Nigerian Dwarf goats.
Other large and small cheese makers also give public or private tours, including Ancient Heritage Dairy in Portland, Willamette Valley Cheese Co. in Salem and Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook. (Note that the Tillamook factory is currently undergoing a major expansion, set to open after summer 2018. In the meantime, there’s plenty of Tillamook ice cream and merchandise to be had in the temporary visitor center, a spacious barn-like structure at the south end of the parking lot.)
Oregon is in love with its cheesemakers. They give us magical offerings like Rogue River Oregonzola — a sweet and savory blue-veined cheese from Rogue Creamery. And there’s Yaquina Bay Pavé from Rivers Edge Chèvre, a smooth cheese studded with green peppercorns, shaped in a trapezoid — and the creamery’s featured cheese for December 2017.
Winning hearts and mouths across the state, the two award-winning creameries are among the two dozen artisan cheesemakers in the Oregon Cheese Guild.
From wine- and beer-soaked cheeses at Walla Walla Cheese Co. and creative curds and Goudas at Umapine Creamery, both in Milton-Freewater, to handmade Mexican-style queso fresco at Ochoa’s Queseria in Albany, Oregon’s cheesemakers are building a tradition of superior cheesemaking.
Cheese lovers can find a whopping 250 varieties of sheep, cow and goat cheeses made in Oregon. That’s a lot of cheese.
There’s CrushPad Creamery in Grants Pass, which in 2015 became the state’s first joint creamery and winery. Here, co-owner and cheesemaker Kara Olmo focuses on cheeses to pair with their Applegate Valley wines, produced by her husband, winemaker Greg Paneitz. (They’ve also added housemade charcuterie to the mix.)
Craving for more cheesy goodness?
Get your sampler tray ready for Oregon Cheese Month in September, when retailers, cheese shops, restaurants and farmers markets gather at locations across the state demos, tastings and pairings.
October brings the Oregon Cheese Guild’s annual Wedge Festival, a farmers’ market-style event in Portland that brings together more than 75 local artisan producers of cheese as well as specialty foods, beer, wine and cider.
And in spring, take in the annual Oregon Cheese Festival, typically held in March at Rogue Creamery in Central Point. The two-day gathering includes educational classes, tastings and a four-course “meet the cheesemakers and winemakers” dinner.
Need help getting started? Set out on a tasty road trip and nibble your way along the Oregon Cheese Trail — there’s one in Portland, on the Coast, in Central and Eastern Oregon, in the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon.