Cheese venture ripens

Castlemaine’s new artisan cheesemaking business is on track to produce its first trial batches of cheese by mid-July and be fully operating by October.
And a specialty cheesemaking school that’s also part of the new venture taking shape in premises at The Mill Castlemaine is expected to begin taking classes by August.
The Cheese School and artisan cheesemaking enterprise – Long Paddock Cheese – is being developed by a passionate partnership team with Cheese Full Circle Pty Ltd whose Melbourne-based director, Alison Lansley, is secretary of the Australian Specialist Cheesemakers Association.
On site at The Mill this week Ms Lansley told the Midland Express that while COVID-19 had impacted delivery of specialised cheesemaking equipment from Europe, the restrictions had also had benefits for enabling building work to develop the new venture’s two premises at the Mill.
“It’s actually been very fortuitous for us,” she said.
“The school building is now complete and we’re just waiting for our equipment to arrive.
“We have a container due to arrive from France in three weeks.”
Cheesemaking vats are part of that equipment consignment, while the arrival of a further large hard cheese vat from Italy will take a little longer due to impacts of the global pandemic.
“But we’re hoping mid-July we will be able to begin to start to produce small trial batches,” Ms Lansley said.
“We’re anticipating it will be October before Long Paddock is up and fully operational with cheese to sell.”
She said classes at The Cheese School were to be limited to eight students in any event, so were not anticipated to be unduly impacted by pandemic restrictions.
Also a key part of the partnership team are highly experienced cheesemaker, Ivan and Julie Larcher who have relocated from France to Harcourt especially to help realise the vision that’s poised to enhance Castlemaine’s reputation as a destination for artisan products and services.
Negotiations are now being finalised with an organic dairy farmer at Girgarre near Kyabram, to supply the venture with cheese milk produced in accordance with specific farming and milking practices aimed especially at high-end cheesemaking.
“We are lucky that we have been able to continue working in the current situation and all of our planning is on track,” said venture cheesemaker Ivan Larcher, naming the Mill’s temporarily empty carpark as particularly useful for facilitating building and fit-out work needed to establish the new specialised premises.
“We’re going to start with two soft cheeses and two semi-hard cheeses,” Ms Lansley said.
She brings to the venture a professional background in corporate law and a passion for quality artisan cheesemaking that’s led her on research missions around the world.

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