Christine Hyatt, a former president of the American Cheese Society, sets up wedges of local cheese.
Christine Hyatt is a pioneer of the Oregon Cheese Trail. A former president of the American Cheese Society, Hyatt logged 1,100 miles visiting producers and purveyors of blues, chèvres, and cheddars to make a suite of videos that premiered on the Oregon Cheese Guild's website this fall. Start down the trail at oregoncheeseguild.org.
Q What's the Oregon Cheese Trail?
A It's a tool to help you understand where cheese comes from. We want to put names and faces on Oregon's cheeses.
Q Why connect with cheese makers?
A When you meet the people making the cheese and see the animals out in their pastures, you get a feel for why these cheeses are so special. It's really inspiring to meet the individuals and see their passion and dedication to their craft.
Q How many are involved?
A When the Oregon Cheese Guild formed in 2006, there were 10 or 12; now it's closer to two dozen. Many creameries are small, with a staff of two or three, and they're open to visitors only on particular days of the month or year.
Q What can you do on the trail?
A Buy a variety of cheeses, go to a winery or a place that sells great Oregon beer, and then find a scenic spot and have a picnic. That's what fine cheese is all about.
Q Your favorite cheese makers?
A Rivers Edge Chèvre. They're on the coast in Logsden, near Newport. Their fresh goat cheeses are not only tasty but very beautiful, like edible art. They may add rose petals and lavender, or decorate them with fern fronds, or wrap them in leaves—stunning.
Q A high point on your journey?
A At Willamette Valley Cheese near Salem, the owner, Rod Volbeda, took me out to the pasture on one of those typical Oregon days—you know, raining but with the sun peeking through. It was incredible to be surrounded by 7o or 80 very large cows that wanted to come and nuzzle. They were so gentle, not what I expected from animals that size.
Photography by Kerrick James
This article was first published in November 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.