Founded by Al and Desiree Wehner in 2000, Sweet Grass Dairy is steeped in dairy farming tradition. Since their arrival in the U.S. from Germany, successibe generations of Al’s family have been dairy farmers in New York State. However, when Al moved to Georgia to attend college in the early 1970s, the warm winters combined with meeting his future wife, Desiree, persuaded Al to stay.
For the first 20 years of its existence, the property that is now Sweet Grass Dairy was a conventional dairy farm. In the early 1990s, the Wehners attended a seminar at a dairy conference on rotational grazing that changed everything. Inspired by the concept of rotating the herd through different paddocks each day, the Wehners reinvented their entire farm by reducing the number of cows in their herd, investing in irrigation systems, and eventually taking cheesemaking courses in California. This transformed Sweet Grass Dairy into the farm that it is today. In addition, they also acquired a small herd of goats.
Fast forward to 2002, when Al and Desiree’s daughter Jessica and her husband Jeremy began working on the farm. Having left budding careers in food and marketing in 2005, Jessica and Jeremy officially purchased the farm from her parents. Under their ownership, Sweet Grass has expanded its cheese-making operations and has now gained national recognition.
Heat is Sweet Grass Dairy’s take on pepper cheese, but they have upped the ante on this one. A combination of Ancho and Pasilla peppers are blended with Chipotle and Paprika into a paste, which is then stirred into the curds. It is then aged for at least 60 days during which time it develops a marbled appearance and a crumbly texture.
The aroma of this cheese is of intense chili peppers and smoke. Heat is mild at first, but slowly develops heat on the tongue. It has a smoky flavor behind the spice.
This cheese is best paired with an IPA or Ale when it comes to beer. For a wine option, an off-dry white such as a Gewurtztraminer or on the opposite side, a bold red like a Malbec. Heat is a good cooking cheese as it melts very well. It can be used in many Mexican dishes including tacos.