Owned by Gianaclis and Vern Caldwell, Pholia Farm is located near Central Point, Oregon, and is one of only a handful of goat dairies in the United States that has a herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats (that, for the record, are neither small nor Nigerian).
The farm is a model of sustainability. It is off the grid, and powered by solar and hydro-electric systems installed by Vern, a former career Marine.
The dairy herd consists of about 30 milking goats. The Caldwells initially chose Nigerian Dwarfs for a 4H project for their young daughter (due to their managable size). Several years later, Gianaclis and Vern find themselves with one of the best herds in the country. They have worked hard on improving genetics and the goats lead a happy life, listening to National Public Radio and jazz, and grazing at pasture for as much of the year as the weather permits.
Gianaclis makes cheese in a room adjacent to (but separated from) the milking parlor and the main barn. The quality of the goats' milk is outstanding and Gianclis approaches cheesemaking in a very methodical and diligent way.
Made from raw milk, Hillis Peak is named after the pioneer mountain that looks over Evans Valley and Pholia Farm to the east. It is a washed curd cheese that develops complex flavors and aromas during aging. Wheels weigh aapproximately 2.5lbs.
The cheeses have a natural rind that is formed as a result of regular rubbing with olive or vegetable oil and smoked Spanish Paprika during the aging process.
The texture of Hillis Peak is semisoft and very smooth, dense and supple with occasional holes. The paste is bone-white in color.
Flavors at six to eight months of age are reminiscent of a Basque sheep's milk cheese. There are notes of earth, cellar and grass, with a balanced sweetness and gentle clean, lactic tang.