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Say Cheese: Sweet Grass Dairy's Green Hill

One of the best American-made cheeses the author's ever tasted. (Domenica Marchetti)

Green Hill is a cheese after my own heart. Rich beyond rich; buttery to runny when ripe, this small round of bloomy-rind cow’s-milk cheese tastes like it comes from happy cows.

And it does. Green Hill is made by Sweet Grass Dairy, a 140-acre family-owned farm in southern Georgia that produces both goat’s-milk and cow’s-milk cheeses. The goats are raised on Sweet Grass property, while the Jersey cows that produce the milk for Green Hill cheese are raised nearby at the family’s 340-acre Green Hill Dairy, where there is plenty of room for them to graze.

Sweet Grass Dairy was founded in 2000 by Al and Desiree Wehner, who had spent years in the conventional dairy farming business, raising cows in barns and feeding them hay and grains. A change of heart prompted them to begin converting their operation, in 1993, to a rotational grazing system, in which the cows eat outdoors all year long, moving from pasture to pasture in the mild Southern climate.

In 2005, the Wehners decided to focus their efforts on their herd of Green Hill cows, and sold their Sweet Grass cheesemaking operation to their daughter and son-in-law, Jessica and Jeremy Little. Jeremy is the cheesemaker, and Jessica manages sales and marketing.

On their Web site, the family describes Green Hill as “the shining star of the Sweet Grass Dairy line.” The cheese has won numerous awards, including first place two years in a row (2007 and 2008) in the soft-ripened category at the American Cheese Society competition.

Green Hill is a double-cream, Camembert-style cheese, with a thin edible rind that is faintly bitter. The paste inside is golden, like old ivory, smooth and unctuous, both salty and sweet and slight mushroomy. It is as good a cheese as I’ve ever tasted.

Despite the accolades, Green Hill had managed to elude my notice until this past weekend, when my neighbor raved about it — she had sampled it at a wine- and cheese-tasting party. The cheese and wines for the party had been supplied by Unwined, a small Alexandria gourmet wine shop that recently opened a second location in the Belle View Shopping Center near my house. I high-tailed it down to the shop and scooped up an eight-ounce round, one that was bloomy white on the outside and slightly squishy when lightly pressed, signaling its ripeness.

You need only a sliced baguette to enjoy the beauty of Green Hill. The cheese, as well as other Sweet Grass cheeses, can be purchased online. Locally, it is available at Unwined, Whole Foods and at The Common Market in Frederick.

-- Domenica Marchetti is on Twitter and Facebook.

By The Food Section  |  November 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Say Cheese  | Tags: Domenica Marchetti, cheese  
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I'm glad to see Unwined get a shout out. I'll have to drop by and pick up some if they haven't run out.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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