Aided by the lovely Jersey Girls, Laurie Neal, owner and chief cheese maker for Laurel’s Crown Artisan Cheese, has been working for the past four years to learn the art of cheese making. She has been long intrigued by cheesemaking and after attending a Beginners cheesemaking course in February of 2010 put on by Washington State University, the call to pursue cheese could no longer be ignored. When WSU provided the Advanced cheesemaking course in March of 2011 and in April 2013, she had the opportunity to work with Gianaclis Caldwell at Pholia Farm in Rogue River, Oregon cementing her love of cheese. Outside of these classes, Laurie continued to practice cheese crafting, experimenting with a variety of cheeses. She was able to start practicing with the help of a friend, Glorianna and her ever patient jersey, Dolly Mama.
As the variety of cheeses grew, the need for greater quantities of milk grew as well and a partnership with the Pure Eire Dairy farm located in Othello, Washington was born. The connection with Pure Éire’s vat of pasteurized milk allowed for research and development yielding approximately 100 lbs of fresh and aged cheese each month.
Where did the research and development take place?
What used to be a dining room in Laurie and her husband, Mark’s home located in Wenatchee, Washington! For three years, their “dining room” was home to food warmers, extra refrigerators and racks upon racks of cheese equipment.
Since the dining room was not a licensed facility, the practice cheese could not be sold. However, the learning experiences proved invaluable and was able to house some spectacular failures and safely experience growing pains!