One of the things on which Madera is missing out is the opportunity to become a part of the artisanal cheese business.
Artisanal cheeses, according to the national association to which such cheeseries belong, are those which are made largely by hand, preferably from recipes that are to some extent original.
Artisanal cheesemaking is an industry that’s growing fast. According to The Wall Street Journal, in a story on these enterprises in its Jan. 16 issue, in 2012 there were 825 artisanal cheeseries in the U.S., compared to 410 in 2006. Some of them are in California, so there’s no shortage of knowledge and technology.
One of those cheeses, Cowgirl Creamery, is considered one of the best cheeses in the world — at least people come from all over to the creamery in Point Reyes to buy it. A goat cheese widely sold in California, Laura Chenel Chevre, is made in Sonoma, and available locally.
Many Maderans have tried Bravo Farms cheeses, made in Fowler and also sold locally, in grocery stores and at wine tastings. Bravo is so successful, the company is reportedly building an additional creamery in Los Banos.
My question is: Why not have some of those small cheeseries here?
Large cheese manufacturers have taken a look at Madera and passed, mainly because the city’s sewer system couldn’t handle the extra water that gets flushed down the drain in the manufacturing process.
But that wouldn’t be a problem for small cheeseries.
And we certainly have enough milk. Milk production is a huge agricultural enterprise in this county, but all that perfect food goes out of county for processing.
Artisan cheesemaking would be a terrific pairing for our boutique wineries. Imagine even bigger crowds at Madera Wine Trails if a cheese trail were mixed in with it.
Realtor Ginger Govett has been doing some work on getting small cheeseries interested in Madera. That’s a good first step in getting things started. Nothing could be more perfect for our valley than a reputation as a place where some of the world’s best cheeses and wines could be enjoyed on the way to one of the world’s most beautiful parks.