Sheep’s Milk: A Scarce Local Commodity Turned Into Award-Winning Cheeses

History tells us Vermont experienced a sort of “sheep boom” in the mid 1800s. Merino sheep brought in from Spain covered the hills of the Green Mountain State. For various reasons, the boom did not last long. Today, most of those hills are covered with trees, and the bucolic scene of sheep grazing in Vermont pastures is a bit of a rarity.

Lucky for us, the Central New York Dairy Sheep Milk Producers Cooperative is a mere two hours to our west. Approximately 90% of the group’s sheep are pastured on a clover grass mix during the summer months, providing us with milk abundant with herbaceous flavor. The producers are part of the Amish community, farming with horse drawn machinery, and milking the sheep by hand. Their standard for quality matches our own.

Our cheesemakers led by Mariano Gonzales take this milk and turn it into three of our specialty cave aged cheeses: Bear Hill and Storyteller, both 100% sheep’s milk; and Shepsog, a mixed milk cheese (50% sheep, 50% cow). 

We know firsthand these cheeses are delicious. We know from others they are some of the best in the market. 

In 2023, Shepsog and Bear Hill took 1st and 2nd place respectively at the American Cheese Society Awards; and at the International Cheese Awards that same year Shepsog, Storyteller and Bear Hill took the three top places.

Culture Magazine, the word on cheese, recognized Shepsog as a best mixed milk cheese of the year in 2019;

In fact, our sheep’s milk cheeses have been winning awards since we introduced them in 2016. Check out our complete awards list here

Here’s to our partner sheep farmers. Without them, there would be no awards…and no delicious Grafton Village sheep’s milk cheeses!