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Shop Talk: City Vineyard Wines, Billings, MT.

city vineyard billings

City Vineyard Wine is bringing a taste of the world to the mountain town of Billings, Montana. Established in 2000 by Becky Reno, the wine, and beer shop has already outgrown two locations to meet the demands of the town’s gourmands. Its 10,000 wine bottles and hundreds of beers aside, City Vineyard is also home to a full tasting lounge and gourmet market. The latter’s cheese counter, featuring dozens of imported and domestic offerings, has become a major draw.

“When the shop was new, we looked at it as a place for all gourmet foods. It’s since turned into something that really features cheese. People come in just for that,” says LeeAnn Grissom, City Vineyard’s market buyer, and cheese manager. “Our market has gone crazy since expanding, and it’s been exciting to watch people respond to the product we’re bringing in.”In addition to hosting wine and cheese pairing classes, Grissom and assistant buyer Jessie Herron also offer a monthly cheese club that allows members to try new cheeses. With the current success of the store, Reno’s daughter Abby hopes to open five more locations over the next few years—so keep a look out, Montana.

culture: What is your go-to party cheese, and what do you usually pair with it?

LeeAnn Grissom: You cannot go wrong with a triple cream like Brillat-Savarin—the “butter of cheeses”. It’s always a crowd pleaser, and I love it with Les Comtes de Provence Wild Blueberries Jam.

culture: What’s the local cheesemaking scene like?

LG: When I first started this job six years ago, it was still novel. It’s only in the last couple of years that cheesemakers have really begun to perfect their craft and allowed the culture to blossom.

culture: What is an interesting request you’ve received from a customer?

LG: Mizithra, a hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese from Greece. You can use it like parmesan—it’s often grated atop pasta with brown butter.

1335 Golden Valley Cir. Billings, MT
Mon-Sat: 9:30 am.–9 pm.
Sun: 10 am.–7 pm.

Polina Chesnakova

Polina Chesnkova is a Seattle-based food writer, cooking class instructor, and the author of Hot Cheese: Over 50 Gooey, Oozy, Melty Recipes.

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