Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June is Dairy Month -- Cornell, Wegmans Join Forces in Cheese Making

Cheese lovers in New York, you're in luck.

An agreement announced Wednesday between Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Wegmans markets will lead to more and more artisan cheeses created right here in New York state and sold at Wegmans.

This is great news not only for the local cheesemakers, but also for cheese lovers, local dairy farmers and the economy, as more local milk will be used to make these artisanal cheeses. three cheese manufacturers

Some cheeses from Goats and Gourmets in Westerlo.
Early participants in the program include Keeley’s Cheese Co. (King Ferry, Cayuga County), Danascara Artisan Cheese (Fonda, Montgomery County), Sprout Creek Farm (Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County), Goats & Gourmets (Westerlo, Albany County) and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. (Old Chatham, Columbia County).

Some of their cheeses will be featured at Wegmans' Pittsford store, and then rolled out later to other Wegmans locations across the state.

Also Wednesday, Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman announced his store chain is beginning to have its store-brand cheddar made in New York state instead of in Canada. Great Lakes Cheese in Adams, Jefferson County, Yancey's Fancy in Corfu, Genesee County and Beecher's in New York City.

Here is Cornell's news release on the Wednesday event:
From a semi-soft washed rind cheese aged in a King Ferry root cellar to a buttery sheep and cow’s milk Camembert created in the Hudson Valley, a host of new New York cheeses will be featured at Wegmans Food Markets.

Products from five artisan cheesemakers were debuted Wednesday at Wegmans Pittsford store, outside Rochester.

The event also highlighted a unique collaboration between Wegmans and Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that was touted as the first step in the next revolution of New York’s dairy industry.

As part of the partnership, Wegmans is providing $360,000 in funding for a three-year pilot program at Cornell that includes the hire of an artisan cheese extension associate position in the CALS Department of Food Science who will create a training curriculum that is supported by focused standard operating procedures (SOPs) which will serve both entrepreneurs as well as the state’s larger cheese producers.

Dean Kathryn Boor samples some Danascara cheese.
It will focus on the skills required for both basic and advanced cheesemaking through hands-on workshops and coursework. Beginners will start with the basics of dairy microbiology and sanitation, while more advanced cheesemakers can train in molding, brining and curing, and quality assurance.

The program will enhance Cornell’s existing strength in dairy development, education and extension, which also includes certificate programs in cheesemaking, fluid milk processing, yogurt and fermented products.

Cornell dairy extension specialist Rob Ralyea said artisan cheesemaking is a growing niche that could have great market potential if given the proper support.

“Making a great, aged artisan cheese is an art that takes practice, science and know-how,” Ralyea said.

Early participants in the program include Keeley’s Cheese Co. (King Ferry), Danascara Artisan Cheese (Fonda), Sprout Creek Farm (Poughkeepsie), Goats & Gourmets (Westerlo) and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. (Old Chatham), each of which was represented at Wednesday’s event.

A selection of their cheeses will be featured at the Pittsford store, and rolled out later to other Wegmans locations across the state.
Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman also announced that the retailer has begun sourcing its store-branded cheddar cheese from New York cheese makers, after years of marketing cheeses manufactured in Canadian dairies.

Its mild cheddar is now at Great Lakes Cheese in Adams, while its medium cheddar is made by Yancey’s Fancy in Corfu and its intense cheddar hails from New York City’s Flatiron District, where it is made by Beecher’s.

“It is our goal to help grow the artisan cheese business by bringing unique and different cheeses to our customers,” said Cathy Gaffney, Wegmans director of cheese and deli departments. 

“They have asked for more local selections," Gaffney said. "By combining the milk quality produced in New York state, our truly passionate cheesemakers, and Cornell University, we have all the components to take the industry to the next level while listening to our customers’ requests.”

“Our goal is to support the next revolution in New York’s dairy industry,” said Kathryn Boor, dean of Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“In addition to boosting both large and small-scale cheesemakers, this partnership will provide increased economic opportunity for dairy farmers and cheese manufacturers and new high-quality products for consumers," Boor said. "It will also lead to significant improvements in efficiencies and production costs, which benefits both businesses and consumers.”

Two photos supplied by Cornell University. The Great Lakes logo is from

1 comment:

  1. Locovores will love this initiative. I know that includes me. Good post.