Big Idea: The big cheese

Little curd-maker: A baby goat at Looking Glass Creamery. Photos by Jennifer Perkins
Little curd-maker: A baby goat at Looking Glass Creamery. Photos by Jennifer Perkins

Kentucky has the Bourbon Trail, California has its wine trails and Western North Carolina is poised to get a Cheese Trail, says Jennifer Perkins, one of the faces behind Looking Glass Creamery. Looking Glass cheeses have been featured in the Willliams-Sonoma 2010-2011 catalog, Cooking Light Magazine and on USAToday.com.

There are several cheese-making destinations and enclaves around the country. Some of those areas, like Wisconsin, have been at the craft for a very long time. In the past 20 years, other areas like New England, the Northwest and California have seen big growth in the number of artisanal cheese operations. The resurgence in cheese-making has been slow going in the South, but Western North Carolina is emerging as one of the leading areas for Southern creameries.

The number of artisanal producers in this area has grown so great that many of us in the local cheese craft are working to debut a WNC Cheese Trail this year. We’ll look to other similar and successful ventures, like the Vermont Cheese Trail, for guidance in forming this new entity. 

The WNC Cheese Trail will promote the region’s artisanal cheese-making operations as a tourist destination for turophiles (also known as cheese-lovers) and foodies alike. We hope the organization will also serve as a resource for member cheese-makers. We also hope the organization will serve its members by expanding their buying power through cooperation and promotion. We believe the trail will facilitate the sharing of information among producers and promote camaraderie among member cheese-making operations. 

We’ve already discussed the concept with ASAP, the Marketing Division of NCDA and the organizers of the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival, and all are in support of the idea. We’re working with Karen Mickler of Yellow Branch Cheese and Carol Coulter of Heritage Homestead Cheese on organizational details. We hope to have a broader meeting in February for interested parties to explore the structure and function of the new organization and the future of WNC cheese. 

To receive notice of the February meeting date, time and location send an email to jen@ashevillecheese.com.

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