"A person's intention affects everything. When I am making cheese I try to have the best of intentions." - Bruce Gleeman
Husband and wife team, Bruce Gleeman and Amy Rose Dubin, create beautiful small-batch cheese at Chimacum Valley Dairy. While Bruce had dabbled in cheesemaking and visited a couple of goat farms, neither he or Amy Rose came from a dairy farming background. Bruce and Amy Rose took a risk to embrace their dreams when they sold their home in Pennsylvania, bought an Airstream trailer, and traveled across the country with their three-year-old daughter, Esther. Together, they developed a dairy on a piece of raw land in Chimacum. With 25 years of experience as a professional chef, Bruce was ready for something new. Amy Rose was eager to be close to the friends and land she grew to love as an undergraduate student at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.
They jumped into farming and cheesemaking with gusto, purchasing their property in 2008, building a dairy, home, barn, and outbuildings. The dairy became licensed in 2014. "It's a lifestyle choice," Bruce explains. Their schedule is dictated by the care needs of the herd, the cheesemaking, and the cycles of the seasons. In the Spring and Summer, the herd is milked twice daily. In the Fall and Winter, as milk production naturally reduces, milking tapers off to once daily, a change of pace that is appreciated as more meals can be enjoyed around the family table together.
Healthy goats make for healthy, tasty cheese. The couple has a personal relationship with each goat. Caring for their nutritional needs with a rotating pasture method, as well as with patience and love. "The animals can read moods. Good intentions lead to happy goats," says Bruce. Each doe has her own idiosyncrasies. When they come into the milk parlor Sassafras, for instance, always does a full counter-clockwise turn before settling into the headgate. Others are shy or eager. The goats amble into the milking parlor in the same string every day. They are, most decidedly, creatures of habit.
Bruce brings the same level of intention and care to his cheesemaking as he does goat farming. He crafts unpasteurized goat and cow milk cheese with milk from his home herd as well as raw cow milk purchased from Dungeness Valley Creamery, Sequim. Keeping the cheese processing at a lower temperature allows the cheese to retain its natural nutritional value and enzymes. By hand-cutting the curd and hand-hooping the cheese, the actual chemical protein chains of the milk are less disturbed and therefore retain more structure, resulting in more flavorful cheese. Working with goat and cow milk requires different techniques. With its higher fat content, cow milk is easier to handle. Bruce describes goat cheesemaking as more of an art. It is a delicate process requiring great attention to detail. It is here that Bruce's experience as a chef is especially helpful. Each step in the cheesemaking process is done with precision, from milking, to heating, stirring, inoculating, molding, aging, and brushing each cheese. As a result, there is very little waste and the cheese is unique, flavorful, and complex.
Chimacum Valley Dairy cheese is enjoyed both locally and nationally. Cheesemongers on the West Coast tout this hand-crafted cheese earning its reputation both in restaurants and in artisan cheese cases. In addition to finding Chimacum Valley Dairy cheese at the Port Townsend Farmers Market, it is served at local and regional restaurants, tasting rooms, and retailed in cheese cases throughout the Pacific-NorthWest. In addition to buying your cheese directly from Bruce and Amy Rose at the Port Townsend Farmers Market, you can find Chimacum Valley Dairy cheese at: Chimacum Corner Farmstand, Port Townsend Food Co-op, Pane D'Amore Artisan Bakery, Nash's Farmstand, Seattle area PCC markets, and Olympia Haggen.