Young cheesemaker takes over 120-year-old business

cheesenotes: visits Plymouth Artisan Cheese, an old cheese factory with a new cheese maker in charge. Their “Original Plymouth” won second-place in its category at the ACS conference in Raleigh this August: 

PLYMOUTH NOTCH, Vt. — It’s easy for visitors to the Calvin Coolidge State Historical Site to imagine life as it was lived here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This tiny town has been kept virtually as it was when Coolidge took office. Here’s the homestead where Silent Cal was born on the Fourth of July in 1872 and sworn in as president in 1923. Here are the barn, the church, the general store — all preserved as if in amber.

And here’s Plymouth Artisan Cheese. Unlike nearly everything else in this tiny village — so remote and lost in time it’s been dubbed “Vermont’s Brigadoon” — the cheese factory is very much a going concern. Founded in 1890 by the future president’s father and four other local farmers, it’s been producing cheese off and on (mostly on) ever since. In its early years, Plymouth cheese was known and appreciated well beyond Plymouth; much of it was shipped to Boston and other Massachusetts locations. The Great Depression closed the factory in 1934. It sat idle until John Coolidge, the president’s son, brought it back to life in 1962; he oversaw operations until 1998, when he sold the factory to the state of Vermont. Over the next 10 years, the factory produced cheese in fits and starts, under various operators.

Meanwhile, of course, artisan cheesemaking took off in this country. Young, eager cheese lovers were drawn to the craft. It was only natural that one of them would step in at Plymouth.

That cheese lover turned out to be Jesse Werner, who grew up in Vermont and was seven years out of Brandeis University, where he’d earned a degree in sociology. He arrived in Plymouth in 2009, armed with an MBA, a certificate in cheesemaking from the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont, and a vision for what the old cheese factory could become.

Read the full story here.

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  • 2 years ago
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