New Producer Profile: Caromont Farm
Since 2007, Gail Hobbs Page has been making goat cheese at Caromont Farm in Esmont, Virginia, just outside of Charlottesville. This cheese makes people sit up and take notice! We’re overjoyed to add this artisan, small batch cheese an option at FLF&LR. When we added it to our producer list last week for its “soft opening,” it was clear that Caromont Farm already had a following among our members. In fact, several folks sent messages thanking us for adding it to our list.
“We’re small,” says Gail, “We have a 5-person staff. But our cheese does have a national profile. Until COVID-19 hit, we’d done well selling through distributors in the region: Richmond, Charlottesville, D.C., Williamsburg. The pandemic has changed how we do things, though. We’re having to reconfigure, like a lot of other small businesses. My husband was the restaurant manager at Hamilton’s [on the downtown mall in Charlottesville], and I used to be the chef there a long time ago, before I started doing this. Obviously, he’s not working there now, and we’re not selling cheese to restaurants. That’s why we’re looking for opportunities through organizations like Fall Line Farms and Local Roots. We like to sell as much as we can locally, so this fits our business model well.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Bill Parrish
If this week’s sales were any indication, Caromont Farm cheese is a good fit for us, too. Lots of it went home with our members—and sales are brisk again this weekend. This cheese is everything we hope to offer to you—delicious, local, and lovingly handmade in small batches by an artisan who loves her craft. And her goats!
“We have 100 goats in our herd,” says Gail. “There are Alpines, Lamanchas, and Saanens on our farm. People love the goats, and they bring visitors here, too. We had already sold a lot of tickets for agritourism events for this summer when this [pandemic] hit. We’re just waiting to see what we’re going to be able to do about letting people visit the farm.”
Isabella “Izzy” Zechini, one of the staff members at Caromont, confirms that the goats—especially when they’re little—hold a strong attraction for visitors.
"The snuggle sessions with the baby goats are really popular,” she says. “But people have been very understanding. Lots of people who purchased tickets to the farm have donated them back to the farm. We’re going to plan events for the fall to thank the folks who are sticking with us.”
Sadly, we can’t bring you a baby goat to snuggle. But we can bring you this award-winning local cheese that’s surrounded by a national buzz. In case you haven’t already perused the list, here’s the lowdown. Caromont offers 7 different options. Five of them are in the Chèvre category: mild and creamy Farmstead Chèvre with no added flavorings; an Herbes de Provence Chèvre log, rolled in herbs and perfect for cheese plates; Piquillo Pepper Chèvre, featuring sweet piquillo peppers; and Truffle Chèvre, with white Italian truffle. All of them are delectable! There’s also the Mt. Alto--a traditional Greek-style feta that’s briny and creamy, but perfect for crumbling. Last but not least, there are two types of queso de campo, or country-style cheese that’s semi-hard and a bit less salty than the feta. You can order your queso de campo plain or with olive oil and chili. You can’t go wrong either way. Seriously.
It may sound cheesy, but we’re thrilled to have Caromont Farm on FLF&LR. From the looks of it, our members share our enthusiasm!
Mt. Alto Feta
To shop for one of these tasty cheeses on our market, click here.
To learn more about Caromont Farm, visit their website (www.caromontcheese.com) or follow them on social media at @caromontfarm. Also, there’s a wonderful October 2019 Richmond Magazine profile written by Eileen Mellon. Find it on richmondmagazine.com.