Harbison is the newest cheese made by Jasper Hill and is named after Anne Harbison, a local activist and grandmother figure in Greensboro, Vermont. She’s known Jasper Hill's Kehler brothers since they were children. This delicate cheese is held together by spruce bark that's collected from the woodlands on the Jasper Hill property. The bark not only acts as a support for the cheese, but it also lends a woodsy essence to the paste.
Located in the beautiful, rolling countryside of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, Jasper Hill Farm was bought by brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler in 1998. When the farm came into their possession, it was extremely run-down, but by 2003, after five years of hard work, Andy and Mateo acquired their first 15 Ayrshire heifers.
The herd now numbers around 45 and, thanks to careful management and focus on building excellent genetics, they have one of the highest quality milking herds in the United States. Ayrshire milk is particularly well-suited to cheesemaking. In terms of fat and protein, it's not as high as Jersey or Guernsey but not as low as Holstein. The way in which the fats and proteins break down provides a perfect platform for the development of an excellent cheese.
The herd grazes from late spring to early fall and over successive years the grazing land at Jasper Hill has been improved by planting a wide variety of clovers, grasses, and legumes to enhance the flavor of the milk.
In addition to the farm and cheesemaking, the brothers have also developed another arm of the business, The Cellars at Jasper Hill. The Cellars—made up of 22,000 square feet of cheese-maturing caves—were designed and built not only to house Jasper Hill's own cheeses but also to mature cheese for several Vermont-based producers. Jasper Hill's own range of cheeses includes Alpha Tolman, Bayley Hazen Blue, Constant Bliss, Moses Sleeper, and Winnimere.
Harbison is herbaceous and bright in flavor. When ripe, the paste is so soft that it can be spooned out onto a warm baguette. For a nice contrast, serve it with either stone-ground mustard or fruit preserves made of apple, stone fruits, or berries.
Beverage pairings include light-bodied reds such as Gamay, full-bodied whites with some oak such as Savagnin or Arneis, and beers such as saison, wheat beer, lambic, and IPAs.