In 1998 brothers Andy and Matheo Kehler along with their respective wives bucked a growing trend in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont by restarting an old dairy farm locally known as the “Jasper Hill”. From the beginning they realized that they needed to keep as much value as possible on the farm rather than sending it out of state in the form of milk. It took them 5 years before their first cheeses hit the local market. By then they had created an environment that could provide employment opportunity in a farm setting in Vermont and a dairy that was producing European-style, cave aged, natural rind and, above all, higher-value cheeses. Their real break came when Cabot Creamery approached them to age a cloth-bound cheddar for them in the Jasper Hill cave. When the Cabot cheese won first place in the American Cheese Society’s conference in 2006, the brothers realized that they had better start thinking about expanding their cave capacity. 2 years later they opened the 22,000 sq ft aging facility that now not only ages the Jasper Hill and Cabot cheeses, but also cheese made by other local cheese makers. Jasper Hill now is one of the most advanced artisanal cheesemakers in this country.
One of our all-time Jasper Hill favorite cheeses is the Harbison. Based on a tradition that has names like “Epoisses”, “Petit Vacherin” and others attached to it, the cheese is of the spoonable kind. It is, in fact, so soft on the inside that it needs support to keep upright. Whereas the French and Swiss versions are aged in little wooden boxes, the Kehlers decided to wrap the cheese in pieces of spruce bark harvested on the farm to let the cheese keep its shape. The bark imparts a slightly woodsy and mustardy flavor to the cheese. The Kehler’s named the cheese after Anne Harbison, seen by many to be the grandmother of Greensboro, VT. She's active in the community, runs a bed and breakfast, and volunteers at the public library, and has known the Kehler brothers since they were children.
Have the cheese with medium bodied reds or slightly off-dry whites. Pair with something hearty, it can deal with it.