Milton Ulladulla Times: Smile and Say Cheese!5 September 2012 – posted in: Cheese

Originally published in Milton Ulladulla Times, September 05, 2012. Story by Katrina Condie.

WHEN you think of Cupitt’s, wine comes to mind, but all that’s about to change as Griff and Rosie branch out into cheese-making.

When the couple opened their winery and restaurant in Ulladulla six years ago, they had a grand plan to eventually produce cheese and beer on-site. After spending three weeks visiting cheese-makers and completing a cheese-making course in France recently, Griff and Rosie have set the wheels in motion.

They have submitted a development application to Shoalhaven City Council with the aim of converting an old dairy on their property into a cheese making shed.

Rosie, known for her love of French wine, told the Times she is “excited about experimenting with French-style cheese. We hope to start making cheese on-site about Easter time,” she said.

What started off as Griff’s pet project, has been taken over by Rosie who has taken a step back from the cellar and is now the “wine consultant” for her sons Wally and Tom who are producing the family’s wines.

“I still love my wine, but I’m looking forward to trying something new,” she said.

While Rosie will be the primary artisan cheese maker, Griff plans on building up a flock of “hardy” sheep that will thrive in the coastal environment and also produce high quantities of milk. He said it would take a few years to cross-breed good milkers with sheep that can tolerate the local wet climate.

The couple spent five days completing a cheese making course at an agricultural college in France and produced eight varieties of soft cheese, including Cabris and Sainte Maure, based on traditional methods using sheep, goat and cow’s milk. They also toured farms and markets in the Poitou-Charentes region of France to get a real feel for the style and flavour of cheese in the area.

“The aim of the trip was to learn more about the traditional French style of cheese-making – soft cheese in particular,” Rosie said. “We made cheeses from scratch and learned about acidity, timing and the aging process – it’s not that different from winemaking in some respects,” she said

The Cupitts will begin making yogurt, butter and soft cheese using milk from local dairy cows, before expanding into sheep milk products. Rosie explained that the French-style cheese will be made with a local twist, with terrain, diet and climate effecting the final flavour of the cheese.

“I really want to experiment with flavours and try to come up with something really tasty,” she said. “In France the sheep eat herbs and different pastures that add flavour to the cheese and I’m keen to try that.”

An advocate of slow food and instrumental in the development of the South Coast as a food and wine destination, Rosie said producing local cheese and dairy products would complement the wine trail.

“It will be great for the local area. Dairying and cheese-making used to be a big industry locally and it would be good to revive that. We will be using the old buttery and creamery on the property as our cheese tasting room and the old dairy to make the cheese.”

The couple have sought advice from one of the country’s top cheese-makers, Richard Thomas, who will help set up their facility and will also run cheese-making workshops at the property.

After establishing their cheese operation, the Cupitt’s are planning to build a boutique brewery on their property in Washburton Road.