Located in the beautiful rolling countryside of the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, 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. Thanks to careful management and focus on building excellent genetics, they now have one of the highest quality milking herds in the United States. 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. More recently, Jasper Hill became involved with milk production at Andersonville Farm in nearby Glover, Vermont; that milk is now used to produce cheeses at Jasper Hill and at the farm's private cell in the Vermont Food Venture Center. In 2015, the Kehlers teamed up with German company AgriCompact Technologies to produce a hay drying facility. The first of its kind in the United States, the Randi Albert Calderwood Cropping Center has allowed Jasper Hill to improve milk quality and safety.
In addition to the farm and cheesemaking, the brothers have also developed another arm of the business, The Cellars at Jasper Hill. The Cellars, which comprise 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 the cheeses of several other Vermont based producers. Jasper Hill's own range of cheeses includes Alpha Tolman, Bayley Hazen Blue, Constant Bliss, Harbison, Moses Sleeper and Winnimere.
Produced seasonally from November to April, Winnimere is a washed-rind cheese that during its maturation of about 2 months, is regularly brushed with a cultured salt brine.
Inspiration for the cheese comes from Alpine cheeses like Vacherin Mont d'Or; in the same style, each Winnimere is encircled in a strip of spruce bark, cut from trees on Jasper Hill's land. The bark helps to maintain the shape of the cheese as well as impart a woody flavor.
When ripe, the interior is smooth, velvety and almost soup-like. The flavor becomes more intense closer to the spruce rind and small, cystallized amino acids give the surface rind a slightly crunchy texture. Flavors of Winnimere are complex and multi-layered. Tastes of milk, grass, almonds and wood shine through, balancing each other and leaving a long, lingering finish.
Peel of a bit of Winnimere's top rind and dig in with a hunk of baguette—or simply a spoon. Pair it with a porter or a meaty, smoky red wine.