Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise is an aged farmstead cheese made from the certified organic raw milk of grass fed Jersey cows. Tarentaise is unique to Pomfret, Vermont. The soil, geographic climate, and flora combine to give Tarentaise it’s smooth, subtle nut flavor, and complex finish. The cheese is handmade in the tradition of the Tarentaise Valley in the Savoie region of France. These cheeses are some of the finest in the world. The process of using a traditional rennet made from the whey of the previous cheese makes adds a complexity which cannot otherwise be created. The copper vat, essential to developing the proper flavor of an Alpine cheese, was the first in Vermont and one of only a few in the United States. This vat was custom built for Thistle Hill in Switzerland. Unlike commercial cheese operations which use pumps that can harm the curds, Thistle Hill carefully removes the curds from the vat in large cheese cloths and hand-carries them to the fore press. The presses are imported from France, as are the cultures used to mature the fresh raw organic milk. The cheese goes through a series of molds and turnings, giving each wheel of Tarentaise its distinctive concave shape. It is then transferred to the aging room. The atmosphere of the aging room, constructed primarily of stone, is developed from French cultures, and is kept at the temperature of a natural alpine cave. Each cheese is scrubbed twice a week with a burlap cloth using a traditional culture and brine solution also known as Morge. The textured rind, butterscotch color and concave sides are all characteristics of the superb French Alpine cheese which inspired Tarentaise. From beginning to end, no preservatives, synthetic flavors or additives are added to cheese. Every aspect is done by the Putnam family on the farm. “One place, one cheese” is a phrase we have heard time and time again and it encapsulates the concept of “terroir”. If we brought milk, or feed in from elsewhere the flavor of Tarentaise would express those regions not ours. This practice, while necessary on a small farm, is also needed to understand how the elements of a farmstead cheese are so closely intertwined.