written by Julie Lee | featured photo courtesy of Rogue Creamery
For some it’s a delicacy, for some it’s a staple, and for the rest of us, it’s an addiction. In the past fifty years, the country’s average annual cheese consumption has risen by more than 300 percent. No offense to our friends in Wisconsin, but we believe some of the best cheese is churned out here in Oregon.
Rogue Creamery was founded by Tom Vella during the Great Depression as an altruistic mission, creating year-round jobs to help sustain families living in Southern Oregon. Rapid expansion employed as many people as possible, women were hired during World War II and cheddar was shipped to troops overseas. His impassioned philanthropy resulted in an award for his war effort contribution and some of the best blue cheese in the world: the Rogue River Blue.
311 N. Front St., Central Point | roguecreamery.com
Great businesses often start in basements, as is the case with Willamette Valley Cheese, which was founded in the basement of a dairy farm. One of the first to offer farmstead cow’s milk cheese, Willamette Valley is an artisan cheese lover’s swan song and a proud soldier in the locavore movement. The creamy Havarti is a favorite of cheeseheads, and the Farmstead Gouda is award-winning.
8105 Wallace Rd. NW, Salem | wvcheeseco.com
Though small-batch artisan cheese lovers may protest, it’s impossible to talk about Oregon cheese without tipping a hat to Tillamook Cheese Factory. Decades before Oregon formed its foodie reputation, Tillamook was producing cheese, ice cream and other assorted creamy treats on the Oregon Coast. Tillamook means business—the visitor’s center is worthy of a day-trip and their products have won national awards galore. What’s more, this summer they opened a seasonal ice cream shop in downtown Tillamook.
4175 Highway 101 N., Tillamook | tillamook.com
Father Paul and son Hank Obringer were originally sheep and dairy farmers. In 2015, they moved to Southeast Portland to restore a historic creamery building and open a modern production facility for hand-crafted cheese. This urban creamery has garnered national attention, winning American Cheese Society and Good Food awards. The Hannah cheese is a favorite: blended raw milk from cows and sheep, tucked into a natural rind.
1311 SE Main St., Portland | ancientheritagedairy.com
Wine country is at the forefront in Oregon’s foodie Renaissance, with its world-renowned vinos, nationally applauded restaurants and booming microbreweries. It comes as no surprise that some of the best hand-crafted artisan cheese is being made in Dundee from free roaming Tideland Dairy goats. The goat cheese truffles are a flavor-packed utopia, marrying chèvre with chocolate.
19231 NE Fairview Dr., Dundee | briarrosecreamery.com