Alex Seidel purchased a ten-acre farm just south of Denver in Larkspur, Colorado in May of 2009. Partnering with Josh Halder from Verde Farms and former Fruition Restaurant sous chef Jimmy Warren, Siedel’s idea was to create a learning center and a sustainable relationship between farm and restaurant, spreading awareness among community members and local restaurants of the fundamentals of farming produce, animal husbandry and the creation of artisanal products.
After attending the Dairy Sheep Association of North America’s annual symposium in the Hudson Valley, the trio was inspired to create Colorado’s first artisanal sheep dairy and creamery. Less than a year later, in September of 2010, they welcomed a flock of 40 milking ewes and one ram. Cheesemaking began three days later. Today Fruition Farms sells lamb and sheep’s wool in addition to three farmstead cheeses, which are produced using whole sheep’s milk from twice-daily milkings.
Inspired by the many different soft-ripened cheeses of the world, Shepherd’s Halo was gradually developed using the milk that was set aside each morning for the “shepherd’s share,” to enrich daily coffees and bowls of cereal. Whole sheep’s milk is gently pasteurized at a low temperature, then transformed by the addition of rennet and mesophilic cultures, as well as the addition of Penicillium and Geotrichum candidum molds, which create the cheese’s bloomy white rind. A four-hour salt brine is followed by a 21-day aging period.
The “halo” in this cheese’s name is inspired by the buttery-textured halo of creamline that encircles a chalkier center and grows as the cheese ages. Flavor is salty and sweet with a mild acidity.
Fruition Farms’ cheesemakers suggest pairing Shepherd’s Halo with fruits, preserves or chutney. For wine pairings, try a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling.