New artisan cheese factory officially opens

Smithton cheese factory officially opens alongside Agritas' Duck River Meadows robotic dairy project

Dairy
MAKERS: Genaro Velasquez and Rosselyn Escalante have already made 300kg of cheese at the new factory. Picture: Meg Powell

MAKERS: Genaro Velasquez and Rosselyn Escalante have already made 300kg of cheese at the new factory. Picture: Meg Powell

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South American twist comes to Circular Head

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The bangs and clatters of state-of-the-art milking robots, the gentle moo of happy cows and shelves already beginning to groan with the weight of 300 kilograms of freshly made cheese - welcome to Smithton's newest cheese factory.

When Genaro Velasquez and Rosselyn Escalante first tried making cheese at home a few years ago, they had no idea they would eventually take on a cutting-edge project in the heart of Tasmania's prime dairy region.

In fact, the Venezuelan couple admitted on Thursday, their first attempts at the ancient art were not particularly appealing.

Semi-hard cheeses mature in the store room before receiving a paprika rind. Picture: Meg Powell

Semi-hard cheeses mature in the store room before receiving a paprika rind. Picture: Meg Powell

"We had some real funky looking cheeses, and we thought, this can't be right," Mr Velasquez said.

Undeterred, the couple managed to take themselves through a cheese course in New Zealand and eventually became good enough to consider starting a business.

"We were just planning to use a couple of shipping containers, and then make cheese for the South American community here," Mr Velasquez admitted, speaking after the official opening of La Cantara Artisan Cheese, a new factory attached to Agritas' Duck River Meadows Dairy project.

"But now we're here."

A dreamy cow slowly wanders into the automatic milking machine. Picture: Meg Powell

A dreamy cow slowly wanders into the automatic milking machine. Picture: Meg Powell

Mr Velasquez said the process of cheesemaking was complex, and required a high attention to detail. To enter the cheese room, the cheese master takes a shower, and then dresses in special cheesemaking clothing. Every time.

"We're very close, we have to get microbial testing done, and then when we get 10consecutive batches that pass we can sell commercially," he said.

"We've made about 300 kilograms so far since Thursday ... about 50 kilograms a day."

The couple will eventually sell their cheeses at a cafe and heritage centre, but in the meantime have launched their own website and will offer local pick up.

Visit the website at www.lacantara.com.au.

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The story New artisan cheese factory officially opens first appeared on The Advocate.

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