After working 30 years as a cheesemaker and as a cheesemaking consultant, Peter Dixon opened his own creamery in 2013 in Westminster West, Vermont, along with his wife Rachel Fritz Schall and her sister Alex Schall.
Parish Hill’s cheeses are inspired by the traditional cheeses of Italy. They’re handmade in small batches using raw milk, which is produced at the Elm Lea Farm at the Putney School. The farm is just five minutes down the road from the cheese house, and its milking herd grazes on fresh pasture from June to October. Parish Hill cheese production happens from May to November in order to take advantage of the pastures that give a highly aromatic quality to the milk, resulting in complex and subtle flavor variations.
Milk for cheesemaking is ripened using homegrown cheese cultures, which are produced by inoculating the farm’s raw milk with pure bacterial cultures and then propagating them continuously. Traditional calf rennet is sourced from Europe and Quebec, and sea salt is sourced from the Maine Sea Salt Company in Marshfield.
Vermont Herdsman is produced in the style of traditional Italian Asiago Grasso di Monte and aged for nine months. During aging, wheels are periodically scrubbed with a salt brine, developing a straw-colored, edible rind.
Texture is toothsome and slightly crumbly with a spattering of holes and occasional amino crystals throughout. Initial flavor is sweet and salty with notes of caramel, giving way to acidity with a slight tang and finishing with a funky, peppery aftertaste. Hints of pineapple and hazelnuts can be detected.
Pair it with a Sangiovese or with a brown ale.