By Wayne MacPhail
Shep Yesselstein used to milk cows. Now he curdles milk. Yesselstein's grandfather started a diary farm on a property just across a broad field near Woodstock, Ontario. Shep Yesselstein is a cheese maker, mostly with milk from the family farm. For five years he and his team have been getting up early, pasteurizing the milk, adding culture, separating whey and pressing the nuturious curds into cheese-shaped moulds. From there the dozen odd varieties of cheese age from a few days to months in clean white rooms that smell of cow, bacteria-produced ammonia and the rich aroma of cheese in the making.
The dairy products from Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese are only sold across Ontario in retailers, farmers' markets and artisan cheese shops. That's because the plant is reviewed by Ontario inspectors, not federal ones. Besides, Yesselstein is already using 80 per cent of the milk produced by the family farm and its only fuelling one province. "My goal is to stay artisan, to stay handcrafted." he says. "I want to keep it enjoyable."