The farmers, ranchers and food artisans with whom we work are essential in ensuring we deliver delicious, sustainably-minded food and beverages. We’d like to spotlight Rogue Creamery, a longstanding purveyor of handmade cheese. We feature their cheeses in our burgers, sandwiches, specials and more, including a stout cheddar they make with our beer.
Owned by David Gremmels and Cary Bryant, Rogue Creamery shares our commitment to unwavering quality and sustainable business. They’ve duly received numerous awards at national and international cheese competitions, regularly make Oregon Business’ list of the 100 Best Green Businesses to Work For (along with SSBC), and were selected as the special pairing with our beer at this year’s SAVOR event in Washington, DC. David also sits on the Oregon Governor’s Sustainability Board. We asked Robert Coplen (QA Administrator) and Tasha Butz (Marketing Intern) to share a bit about their history, creative processes and sustainability practices.
What led David and Cary to get into the cheese business?
David and Cary (on the left in the photo) initially wanted to open a wine bar in Ashland. Knowing how well wine and cheese pair, they approached Ignazio (Ig) Vella, owner of Rogue Creamery, to find the perfect cheese for this. Ig said the company was for sale and if they wanted cheese they would have to purchase the company and learn to make it themselves. Ten years ago this month, they assumed ownership.
What a great story! How did your cheesemakers learn to make such incredible cheese?
Ig Vella passed his experience and knowledge to David and Cary, who have added to our handmade cheeses by experimenting with various flavors and molds. They’ve passed their skills and knowledge to cheesemakers Craig Nelson and Jason Garcia, who have shared it with our excellent team that makes some of the world’s best handmade cheese today.
Where do you get your ideas for new techniques and flavors (like Rogue River Blue..mmmm)?
We gather ideas from team members, David and Cary, and general experimentation. Our unique flavors come from the terrior that surrounds us here in the valley…. and all over the world. Our TouVelle, for example, is an original combination of cheddar, jack, and gouda.
How does sustainability fit into your business mission?
The company’s mission is “an artisan cheese company, with people dedicated to service, sustainability and the art and tradition of making the world’s finest handmade cheese.” Sustainability is part of our business mission, not only within the mission statement itself, but within everything the Creamery does.
What are some of your key sustainability practices?
These include the Nellie Green Pedal Power Bike Commuter Program [free commuter bikes for employees], 252 photovoltaic panels that generate 30% of our energy needs (one of Southern Oregon’s largest) and our sustainable agriculture practices. These programs signify our commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Every step of the cheesemaking process takes “being green” into consideration, from start to finish. Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals — environmental health, animal welfare, and social and economic equity. The cow dairy that supplies our milk is certified sustainable by Food Alliance. Our cheesemaking facilities participate in the 3 R’s, reducing waste at facilities, reusing whey, and using recycled-content packaging
Way to go! What benefits do your sustainability practices bring?
Pursuing responsible and sustainable stewardship of our resources allows us to create our products in ways that have a positive impact on our environment. Perpetually working toward and incorporating new ways to reduce our carbon footprint brings us closer to a positive return for the environment around us. These sustainability practices allow us to benefit our environment, as resources are used, rather than destroying it.
What a delicious approach to business! Thanks, Rogue Creamery, for sharing a little inspiration and for your fabulous handmade cheeses! We’ll see you at the farmer’s market (your curds blow us a-whey!), or our next grass-fed burger!
(Last photo: M. Schweisguth)