THEM BOYS DON’T MESS AROUND.
Mention the Cellars at Jasper Hill to their neighboring farmers and fellow Vermonters and you’re likely to hear this. It’s true. “Them boys” are Andy and Mateo Kehler, the Greensboro, Vermont based cheesemakers-turned- agricultural entrepreneurs who set out to change the way artisan cheese making was done in Vermont. After a stint as carpenters and farmers, Mateo and Andy built a seven-vault, multi-million dollar cheese aging production facility and cellar, a place for near-by small farmers to outsource the costly business of ripening and caring for hand made cheese. In this way, the Cellars at Jasper Hill are a catalyst for sustainable business.
Jasper Hill is really the result of a quest for meaningful work in a place that we love,” describes Mateo of their motivations. “Our family has a connection to Greensboro going back 100 years and we’re committed to this place and this process.
The commitment was first forged in 1998, the year that the Kehlers bought their farm when the area saw thirty percent of the dairies close. The loss of those agricultural and economic drivers catalyzed the plans for the Cellars and gave the Kehlers a focus. By assuming the high overhead of aging and finishing artisanal cheeses, more local farms working with Jasper Hill were able to produce more high-end products driving more money into the community. Today, Jasper Hill can support cheesemaking from the milk of 800 cows, include roughly forty of their own stock. The signature Jasper Hill product, a smelly cheese called Winnimere won the “Best of” award from the American Cheese Society at its annual competition.
It’s clear that the awards aren’t motivating for the Kehlers. The story and the adventure is what pushes them. “Cheese is a rabbit hole. You can go deep in it,” Mateo says. When he talks about cheese, he’s part mad hatter, wide-eyed, visibly fearless and ready for the next adventure.