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Everona Dairy - Your local experts in artisanal sheep's milk cheese! Make your appointment to visit Want to come visit? Call and make
We produce award-winning sheep's milk cheese - aged, washed-rind, and unpasteurized - as simple as it gets. Always looking for ways to improve our products, at Everona we strive to continue the tradition of artisan cheesemaking techniques while keeping up with the growing demand for local, farmstead cheeses. Of course, we also believe in educating, and are always happy to answer your questions. We want to make
sure we are ready for your visit.
$20.00 per adult, children are free.
Operating as usual
Photos from Everona Dairy's post
Photos from Everona Dairy's post
looks like a good caption this photo
FDA Backs Down In Fight Over Aged Cheese
Forbes is a leading source for reliable business news and financial information. Read news, politics, economics, business & finance on Forbes.com
The use of wood for cheese ripening or aging is considered an unsanitary practice by FDA, and a violation of FDA's current Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations.
FDA May Destroy American Artisan Cheese Industry
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an executive decree banning the centuries old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards. One bureaucrat within the FDA, without citing to any science, and without public commentary, has rattled hundreds of small businesses across the United States. …
batch # carving
if anyone has the time we highly recommend attending the Maryland sheep and wool festival this weekend it is a lot of fun , educational ,and a great way to spend a spring weekend. Stop by and see us if you can get there, and ask about our new grilling cheese it goes great on the bbq grill with shish kabobs [I had some last night to kick off the grilling season and they were rockin] www.sheepandwool.org/
Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds. Always the first full weekend in May.
The Joy of Cooking
Still chilled? Warm up while celebrating spring's bounty with this delicious lamb stew.
the previous post is an article in distinction mag. january 16 2014
With sheep and hard work Everona Dairy builds a future.
Virginia’s first and only sheep dairy is the product
of the unexpected, the gifted, and the bonds of generations.
by KRISTIN DAVIS
photography by TODD WRIGHT
Rapidan, VIRGINIA – Everona Dairy’s three hired milkers are up before the dawn. They corral woolly bundles of baaing ewes into the milking yard, a kind of waiting room before the animals take turns in the milking parlor. This is when the phone will start ringing or there is a knock at the door, signaling some problem in the parlor, situated just up a dirt path from where the Wentz family makes its home.
Of course, some days never really end, like in the spring when most of the ewes give birth. During the busiest time, Carolyn or Brian Wentz might grab a few hours of sleep in a room off the barn built for lambing season. There is a second surge of births in late summer and early fall and at least one new lamb in the months in between. That means a steady supply of fresh milk – and a constant supply of the artisanal sheep cheese churned out here for nearly two decades. But it also means constant work.
“Sometimes,” Carolyn says with a laugh, “it feels like 27 hours a day, nine days a week.”
But the work is rewarding, and there is no commute here in these soft-sloping hills of red dirt and thick grass in Virginia’s foothills.
Everona, the first – and only – sheep dairy in the state, got its start because a woman doctor moved here from Michigan in the ’70s. Because she happened to get a puppy who needed something to do. Because she was as good with her hands as she was with her mind, and because she was determined – as is her granddaughter, who looks to her elder’s legacy. Everona now produces close to 30 kinds of cheese, all handmade, no dyes, no fake flavors, no preservatives, its customers ranging from locals to the White House.
Saturday is 10-year-old Sadie Wentz’ morning to sleep in. But she is out of the house by 10, headed in leggings and cowboy boots to look in on her flock.
Fourteen sheep with dark faces and muddy white fleece crowd together at the far end of their pen, eyeing the intruders. Sadie, the elder of Carolyn and Brian’s two children, leans over the fence and points out Coconut and Chocolate. They are indistinguishable to anyone but her. Sadie raised them up from lambs as part of a 4-H project, then used a portion of her earnings to invest in more.
It is Sadie’s first foray into the business side of her family’s legacy. Like Everona’s milk-producing Friesians calling out from a nearby barn, these ewes represent just the beginning. Sadie plans to sell her flock’s offspring to fellow 4-Hers and use the earnings to help put herself through college someday.
It’s a plan her grandmother long encouraged. Patricia Elliott was a pioneer of sorts, founding Virginia’s only sheep dairy some 20 years ago while running a full-time medical practice out of her home.
Sadie steps onto a field soft from manure and the night’s rain and expertly takes hold of Chocolate, demonstrating how she showed him at the Orange County fair a few months earlier. When lambing season begins, she’ll have to spend enough time with the new arrivals to make sure they are just as docile, before they are sold, after a year, as milk producers or meat.
Sadie understands what her dad, Brian, explains: If you watch your animals every day, you will know them. And you will know when something is wrong.
Brian learned that fundamental lesson from his mother, who two decades ago bought a border collie that changed their lives.
Circle carries on the work of a puppy adopted in 1992 by Dr. Patricia Elliott.
Patricia Elliott saw the dog at a local wine and fiber festival in 1992.
A man was giving demonstrations of his border collie, an innate herder bred for centuries to corral sheep. Elliott went home with one of his puppies. Not long after, she decided that the dog needed some sheep to keep it properly entertained – and that the sheep ought to earn their keep. That’s when she started hand-milking her ewes inside a shed just beyond her house.
She used the sheep’s milk to make soap and cheese. If you’d known her, says her daughter-in-law, Carolyn, that wouldn’t surprise you. Elliott loved baking desserts and breads. Sometimes she even milled her own wheat. She was as down-to-earth as she was bright.
Elliott, a Michigan native and the daughter of a college dean, graduated from high school at 16. By 21, she’d earned a master’s degree in zoology and set her sights on medical school. It was an unusual path for a woman in those days, particularly a woman with a family. Elliott already had two children when she started medical school and had two more along the way. That didn’t slow her down. She graduated in 1958 and went on to open her family practice, treating patients whether they could afford it or not. She started a crisis hotline and a free medical clinic for the area’s seasonal workers. She bore three more children, seven in all, whom she brought to work so she could breastfeed between patients.
Dr. Elliot’s portrait is in the hand of son Brian Wentz,
who works with his daughter Sadie, wife Carolyn
and son Oscar.
Elliott moved to Virginia in 1974, settling in a house in the rolling hills of Rapidan, a tiny, unincorporated community about 35 miles northeast of Charlottesville. Here, in what has since become the heart of Virginia wine country, thick grass sprouts from rich, red dirt. It happened to be the ideal
setting for a sheep farm.
For years, Elliott balanced her family practice with the job of Orange County medical examiner. She delivered babies in her office, made house calls and performed autopsies at all hours. There hardly seemed time for another occupation. If you had told her this, Carolyn says with a laugh, it only would have made her that much more determined to prove you wrong.
Elliott shared her first batch of sheep cheese with friends and neighbors, who operated a bed and breakfast. They wanted to know how they could buy it to serve to guests. Elliott went back and made more. Soon, she was selling her homestead artisanal cheese to a handful of local restaurants.
“Every year, it got a little bigger,” Brian says, until finally, “it blew up.”
Sheep’s milk, Elliott had seen, is ideal for cheese making because it has more fat than cow’s milk. Its high protein makes it easier to digest, and the cheese is creamier, richer and milder – yet more flavorful. Nonetheless, sheep dairies are still uncommon in the United States. Before Everona, they were uncharted in Virginia. Elliott traveled to Wisconsin and Greece to learn more about the art of aged artisanal sheep cheese.
She got another border collie. She traded hand-milking for a portable pump and, finally, a commercial milking parlor constructed within walking distance of her home. She bought the first of 200 Friesian dairy sheep and recruited son Brian to help around the farm. He worked as a heavy-equipment operator in Northern Virginia by day and cleared fields and built fences and tended the animals during the evenings and on weekends.
As the operation grew, Elliott and an assistant cheesemaker churned out new recipes to feed the ever-increasing demand, for cheese served in local wineries and the White House and high-end restaurants around the country. There are no dyes, no artificial flavors or preservatives – just natural cheese handmade with Everona’s own fresh milk and aged to perfection. Some sheep farms regulate the animals’ cycle with injections or by manually changing the light, which can also alter a ewe’s reproduction cycle. Neither is done at Everona, where as many as 500 new lambs are born each year.
Elliott spent spring nights camped out in the lambing barn with a pile of medical journals. Most ewes deliver without complications. But she was nearby to help them through breech births, tight births and births of multiples.
Amid all this new life, Elliott’s assistant cheesemaker went into labor. The woman was in the middle of a batch of cracked pepper Piedmont eight years ago when Carolyn got a call that the baby was on the way and someone else would have to step in. Could Carolyn do it?
She wasn’t so sure. She was a floral designer, not a cheesemaker. She liked to cook and she was creative, so that was a start, at least.
Elliott told Carolyn not to worry. If you are meant to make cheese, she said, you will get it the first time. Carolyn watched and took notes as Elliott transformed fresh sheep’s milk into white cheese wheels marbled in black pepper. Elliott wrote down directions. The next day, Carolyn was on her own.
Brian, who now farms full time
There are dozens of steps that require precise temperatures and measurements, periods of mixing and periods of motionlessness, of heating and cooling, coagulating and cutting into curds. Carolyn went through them one by one. When that was all done, she used her hands to press the cheese into wheel-shaped molds. It was nerve-wracking. She stood on a stool to get enough leverage over it, careful not to press too hard lest she push the cream out and ruin the batch.
“I got it the first time,” she says. “I was meant to be a cheesemaker.”
These days, she and an assistant produce more than 50 pounds a day inside a newly expanded creamery as white and sterile as a doctor’s office.
They make 27 kinds in all. Piedmont is an Everona classic and longtime best-seller: “Nutty, with fruity tones, and a wonderful aftertaste,” tasters from the American Cheese Society wrote in 2005 when naming Piedmont No. 1 in the sheep cheese farmhouse category. There are Pride of Bacchus, soaked in lees from Early Mountain Vineyard in Madison and served at least once at the White House; Skyline and Blue Ridge, a mild-flavored, old-style blue cheese that even people who think they won’t like end up enjoying. There are cheddar, mozzarella and pressed ricotta, dill-, chive-, sage- and saffron-flavored Piedmont. There is a Swiss-style cheese called Shenandoah created by Carolyn and Elliott that took 10th place at the World Cheese Championship. Carolyn regularly experiments with new flavors.
Six years ago, Elliott handed over the day-to-day operation of Everona to her son and daughter-in-law. Brian gave up his day job to focus on farming full time.
Elliott’s house stands between the Wentzes’ and the bulk of the operation: the fields and the pens, the buildings and the barns the doctor could see from her office window.
Two weeks before she died in May at 84, Elliott was still seeing patients. A week before her death, she was filling out medical charts and looking out that window at all she had created.
Sadie, whose pursuits include 4-H, veterinary school and ballet.
After her death, the doctor’s office fell quiet. But Sadie, at 10, has a plan. She wants to heal animals the way Elliott healed humans.
She was no older than 2 or 3 when she first told her grandmother she planned to become a veterinarian. She’d just helped deliver her first lamb, a job she has been doing ever since: aiding ewes through difficult births like her grandmother did, giving vaccinations, trimming hooves and matter-of-factly pitching in on the occasional necropsy.
In private dinners by Elliott’s big fireplace, the woman who had balanced family life with two careers encouraged her granddaughter to go after her dream.
So when Sadie is not caring for her sheep or chasing after a feral kitten she intends to tame or going to school or heading off to dance class, where she trades mud- and manure-caked boots for ballet slippers, she is working on a list of prospective colleges.
She has persuaded her 6-year-old brother, Oscar, to join the venture, their dad says. They have it all figured out. Sadie will come back to Everona after earning her degree in veterinary medicine. She will bring new life to her grandmother’s old office in Virginia’s foothills.
labor day ,if your not busy, stop by everona dairy as we are part of the farm tour circuit for meet your eats. we will have tours and tastings , come meet the cheese maker , and you might see some young entrepreneurs selling fresh figs . http://meetyereats.wordpress.com/
Market Central's Labor Day Farm Tour!
This week was the American Cheese Society 30th annual conference and competition in Madison, Wisconsin from July 31st to August 4th. We are very proud to announce that Everona Dairy received awards for our Pride of Bacchus cheese and our Williamsburg cheese. There were over 1700 entries in the competition this year. We here at Everona Dairy are very excited and wanted to share our news.
Sadie had a great , but tiring , 4 days at the fair she won a lot of ribbons and had a great time. she learned a lot about showing and what the judges are looking for , and bought two sheep and a pig for breeding next years show animals
more new lambs today , I don't think our ewes know this is vacation season lol
the apple pie moonshine cheese is finally ready ,we sent some to the Charlottesville market and got good reviews , and shipped some to this years American cheese society competition , wish us luck .
this is Coconut ( and Sadie)and she lives up to her name , she is a nut . also in the farm show this week she will be pulling a cart for the kids and competing in the market class
not sheep related ,Oscars new duck with a hat he found somewere
circle had 6 puppies they are 10 days old and very cute
the wine Expo in Richmond was a great success thanks to everyone who attended , and a special thanks to the homested who featured our cheese at their booth
a few of the 160 + 2013 lambs as of 1/29
in the previous post is three of the five quints
we will have lamb pictures soon , we have had over 100 this week with our first set of quads and quintuplets yesterday so birthing and feeding lambs has been our only priority .
we are nto lambing season we had 16 lambs today , they are all cute lol
Sad to say, but two of our favorite markets - Penn Quarter and Charlottesville will be ending for the season this week.
Come see us tomorrow at Penn Quarter (8th and E NW DC, 3:00-7:00) and Saturday in Charlottesville (2nd St South and Water St, 8:00-1:00) and grab those last minute holiday gifts. We'll have a selection of some of our most requested cheeses including Piedmont Reserve and Truffle and we'll be running a Christmas special at both of these markets (as well as Dupont Circle on Sunday). Happy Holidays!
Everona Dairy will be at the King George Farmers' Market Holly Jolly Holiday Market (10381 Ridge Road, King George VA) tomorrow from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM. We will also be delivering a huge assortment of our cheeses to the Olde Towne Butcher in Fredericksburg and making our regular appearance at the Charlottesville Holiday Market (1st Street South and Water Street, Charlottesville VA) from 8:00 - 1:00. Come say hi and grab some terrific artisinal cheeses.
Come visit us at the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market (20th & P, NW DC - 8:30-1:00) tomorrow morning for a taste of some of our delicious cheeses.
As a special treat we'll have some of our highly sought after 14 month old Piedmont Reserve.
This cheese is one to write home about - a highly crystallized, Parmesan like texture meets an incredibly deep and complex flavor and aroma. Expect notes of cappuccino, hazelnuts and toffee and a delightful tanginess - don't miss out!
23246 Clarks Mountain Rd
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4-H Therapeutic Adventure Camp of OrangeOrange 22960