Cypress Grove Chevre is located in Humboldt County in the temperate Pacific Northwest coastal region of California. The origins of the business began during the 1970’s when the company’s founder, Mary Keehn, became interested in Alpine dairy goats while searching for a healthy source of milk for her young daughters. This resulted in the acquisition of two goats and from this small start, she quickly developed a passionate interest in breeding high quality Alpine goats. Within a few years, the size of Mary’s herd increased significantly and, finding herself with excess goat milk, she started experimenting with cheesemaking. By 1983 and with the beginnings of a regular customer base, she officially founded Cypress Grove Chevre. At the time, commercial goat cheese production was virtually unheard of in the US and Mary, along with a handful of other goat cheesemakers, was one of the first to spearhead the movement. As Cypress Grove grew, the challenges of managing the goats in addition to the cheesemaking became insurmountable. Therefore, the decision was made to sell the goats to a number of local farms with the arrangement to buy back the milk. Each dairy still operates under an incentive program, ensuring that consistently high quality milk is supplied back to Cypress Grove for cheesemaking. This arrangement allowed Mary to fully focus on the cheesemaking and to take the company forward. Until the early 1990’s Cypress Grove focused on fresher styles of goat’s milk cheeses. However, the successful creation of Humboldt Fog in 1992, helped pave the way for several other American Originals. As the company grew and expanded, Mary was approached with many acquisition offers. However, none of the proposals seemed an appropriate fit until August 2010 when she received a proposal from Emmi, a Swiss company, majority-owned by a cooperative of small farmers and dairy operators. Emmi committed to keep the company’s employees and headquarters in Humboldt County as well as maintaining Cypress Grove’s long-standing commitments with the community, environment and milk suppliers. In addition to the younger style goat’s milk cheeses made in the Arcata creamery, in 1998 Mary introduced a new range of matured cheeses to complement and “round out” the Cypress Grove line. These matured, gouda-style cheeses are produced in the Netherlands and sold under the Cypress Grove label. Not only does this relationship help Cypress Grove avoid risking cross contamination (associated with making different kinds of cheeses), but it also addresses the issue of the considerable amount of additional space needed for aging these types of cheeses. Released in 2003, Lamb Chopper is made from pasteurized sheep’s milk unlike the other goat cheeses from Cypress Grove.
Aged for at least three months, the interior texture of Lamb Chopper is ivory white in color with a smooth firm paste. Flavors of butter and cream are balanced with a gentle acidity resulting in a mild and yet full flavored, accessible cheese.
Although Lamb Chopper pairs well with either red or white wines, try to avoid anything too tannic or oaky.