Owned by Marisa Mauro, Ploughgate Creamery is located near Craftsbury Common, Vermont.
Having worked extensively at several well-known cheesemaking operations in the northeast, Marisa and former business partner, Princess Maclean, founded Ploughgate in May 2008. Princess is still involved with sales and special events for the creamery.
Ploughgate occupies a building that was an existing creamery, and which Marisa and Princess bought from a cheesemaking couple that were on the verge of retirement. Together they renovated the building and started their own business.
Both sheep's and cow's milk is currently sourced from small local dairies, although there are plans to develop the Creamery's own herd within the next few years. Ayrshire cow's milk is used for production of Hartwell, and comes from a 50 animal herd owned by the Hancock family, located about 18 miles away. It is a small, family run farm, that has been operating on the same land for the last 99 years.
The recipe for Willoughby was developed directly from another Ploughgate cheese, Hartwell. Marisa began to experiment with Hartwell by doing some washes on the cheese, and then finally modifying the starter cultures used.
The "make" process for both cheeses is quite similar, however the Willoughby develops a more assertive aroma, due to its washed rind, which results in a different breakdown of the interior paste.
Like Hartwell, Willoughby is transferred to The Cellars at Jasper Hill at quite a young age, where it is matured and finished before being sold.
The texture of Willoughby is semisoft and silky, with occasional holes and a pale, caramel-colored paste. Flavors are meaty and rich, with notes of smoke and bacon.