While a young man Randal lived in Italy for a few years. Here he had his first exposure to dairy sheep and the wonderful flavor of Alpine style sheep cheese. Randal and Carol were again inspired by the alpine sheep cheeses when they visited Italy in 2004. That experience influenced their decision to consider a venture into a sheep cheese business of their own.
Alpine style cheeses have their origins from Mediterranean sheepherders who lambed their flocks in the valleys of Europe. Following the lambing season, the sheep flocks were grazed in the steep but lush alpine meadows following the snowmelt. The cheeses were made and stored in alpine caves. At the end of the grazing season the sheepherders brought the sheep and the cheese back to the valley for the winter. Therefore, all alpine- style cheeses are made from whole sheep milk and are typically aged from 3-6 months. Mountain Valley Farmstead, to the extent possible, follows this traditional method of grazing, cheese making, and aging.
Farmstead products must be produced, processed, and packaged at the same location. All of Mountain Valley Farmstead products are truly farmstead.
Artisan products must be hand made in small batches and are not mass-produced in large volumes in highly automated production plants. Mountain Valley Farmstead products are truly artisan.
First, we want to thank our loyal customers who purchase our high quality, alpine, farmstead, artisan sheep cheese. We recently celebrated our first complete year of selling Carmen Carrano at the October 2018 Trailing of the sheep Festival in Sun Valley Idaho. At this important milestone, we want to provide an update on our expanding selection of high quality, alpine, farmstead, and artisan sheep cheeses.
As some of you may already know, our “Manchego-style” Carmen Carrano cheese is our “signature” cheese in more ways than one. Carmen is the location of our Idaho farmstead. The name “Carrano” comes from the first three letters of our first names: “Car” is from Carol, and “ran” is from Randal. We added an “o” on the end to bring out a little of our love for Italy where our love of sheep cheeses first sparked our interest in starting up a sheep dairy here in our beloved Idaho.
Our 2018 production of Carmen Carrano recently came of age (a minimum of 6 months). Therefore, we now have Carmen Carrano that is just over 6 months of age, and, we still have, for a limited time, some of our 2017 aged Carmen Carrano (now over one year of age). Our 2017 vintage Carmen Carrano has aged very well, and as many of you already know, its distinct aged flavor is something very special.
Starting in November of 2018, we will begin labeling our Carmen Carrano cheese differently so our customers will be able to distinguish between their aged differences.
Our wedges of Aged Carmen Carrano (over 1 year of age) will now carry a bright orange SHARP sticker. Our aged Carmen Carrano will be available only as long as our limited remaining 2017 inventory holds out.
Our 2018 production of Carmen Carrano (aged a minimum of 6 months) will be labeled and sold as it typically has been since October of 2017.
On April 6, 2018, we made our first batch of our “Gouda-style” cheese called Mountain Gem. This cheese ages a minimum of 3 months and is a milder and slightly sweeter cheese. We started selling Mountain Gem in June of 2018. Those who prefer a milder but still creamy and flavorful cheese have come to love our Mountain Gem.
On April 23, 2018, we made our first batch of our “Pecorino Romano-style” cheese called Pecorino Idaho. This wonderful cheese ages a minimum of 9 months and is a very piquant cheese used primarily for grating. In November of 2018, we will begin sales of Pecorino Idaho.