Glendale Shepherd Dairy is located on the Swanson family property on Whidbey Island, south of Clinton and north of Possession Point. The property is primarily forestland, and also includes several pastureland areas. Included among the forest and pasture areas are ponds, meadows, gardens, family residences and working facilities. The property provides a diversity of high quality habitat for livestock and wildlife. The family’s goals are to use sustainable agriculture to work with nature and enrich rather than deplete the environment, and to limit the size of the farm operation to maintain the personal quality of the products and enjoyment of everyday tasks. More specific goals are: .... Read entire posting here
Rustic wheels of Island Brebis, a richly satisfying sheep’s milk cheese produced by Glendale Shepherd Farms on South Whidbey Island (photo by Marco Ricca)
GLENDALE SHEPHERD farm owners Lynn and Stan Swanson, along with their son Erik, wouldn’t dream of making cheese with milk from anybody’s sheep other than their own. They honor the farmstead tradition of raising and milking their own animals and creating artisanal small-batch cheeses on their 80-acre Whidbey Island farm that overlooks Saratoga Passage. With forest, pasture, ponds and meadows, the farm provides a diversity of habitat for their herd of 50 milking sheep, a mixture of European East Friesian and Lacaune dairy cross-breeds.
A Return To Roots
Lynn, a former clothing pattern maker, tailor and fiber artist, found a pathway back to her roots as a fourth generation Washington dairy farmer when she and Stan, formerly a dentist, decided to launch Glendale Shepherd four years ago. Their son Erik joined them in the family venture, having attended sheep dairy school at the University of Wisconsin, a school renowned for its specialized research program that focuses on quality sheep milk production used in cheesemaking.
Healthy, Happy Sheep
The Swansons use high quality hays and natural grains to supplement the herd’s grass-fed diet, ensuring the rich, sweet ‘Grade A’ milk their sheep produce is free from antibiotics, additives and preservatives. The USDA certifies the farm as Animal Welfare Approved for practicing the highest standards of farm animal care and sustainable farming. Happier sheep means better tasting and more nutritious milk.
Award Winning Cheese
Island Brebis (Brebis refers to a family of sheep’s milk) won a Good Food Award earlier this year for excellence in both taste and responsible production. This whole raw sheep’s milk tomme is aged up to a year. The rustic wheels are washed, brushed and turned to develop a natural golden brown rind. They also produce a denser “extra aged” version which is aged for 18 months.
Tasting & Pairing
Island Brebis: Aged 3-12 months, it is smooth and firm offering toothsome butterfat and crystalline-like texture. The flavors are extraordinarily earthy and nutty, with complex layers of sweet cream, grassy herbs, caramel notes and white truffle oil.
Pairing: Sparkling bubbly wine or a creamy nutty Chardonnay. For reds, try medium bodied food-friendly wines like Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. It also pairs with hard ciders and IPAs.
Island Brebis Extra Aged: Aged 18 months, it is firm and dense in texture, with a pleasing, slightly crystalline tooth on the palate. The flavors are broad and earthy, displaying rich undertones of black walnut, bark, sweet grass, dried herbs and caramel notes. Perfect for shaving over salad, pasta or pizza.
Pairing: Bold rustic reds like a Tempranillo, Malbec, Grenache and Carmenere, or contrast with lively white wine like Sauvignon blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Albarino and sparkling wine.
The Whole Lineup
In addition to the Island Brebis, the Swansons create a number of other fantastic aged and fresh seasonal cheeses.
- Brebis Frais is a spreadable cream cheese made from fresh sheep’s milk that is rich and buttery with delicate grassy notes—and will leave you drooling for more.
- Feta combines the rich complexity of sheep’s milk with a lengthy process of aging in brine, producing a classic, creamy feta cheese.
- Saratoga Passage (named for the body of water the farm overlooks) is a washed curd style raw sheep’s milk cheese that is aged in five-to-six-pound wheels for one year. Creamy and rich with tangy, sharp, nutty flavors and hints of hay and grassy notes.
- Tallulah is their latest creation, a delicious semi-soft, washed rind cheese inspired by the Tallegio cheeses of Italy. Made in small round wheels and classic squares, it has a reddish-colored thin crust and “stinky” aroma. The gooey inside is comparatively mild, oozing with creamy texture and rich buttery, earthy notes with a fruity tang.
Find the Cheese
Glendale Shepherd Cheese is sold at the farm’s own tasting room, as well as around the Puget Sound at select cheese shops, restaurants and farmers markets.
Portland food writer and photographer, Meaghin Kennedy, recently visited Glendale Shepherd, and shares her perspective in "Cheese with a (Traceable) Story"
Audra Mulkern writes and photographs "The Female Farmer Project" - a chronicle of in-depth stories about the rise of women working in agriculture across the country and around the world in Modern Farmer Magazine this month. Learn a little about the six female farmers mentioned in this introductory piece: "Picturing Women Farmers".
Glendale Shepherd wins 2014 Good Food Award
CLINTON – Whidbey Island’s Glendale Shepherd, of Clinton, was named a Good Food Award winner for its aged sheep milk tomme named “Island Brebis.” The awards ceremony took place Jan. 16 in San Francisco, CA. This year’s winners were selected from 1,450 entries from all 50 states in a Blind Tasting held in September. Selected entries then went through a rigorous vetting process to verify they met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria to win a Good Food Award. In total, 130 winning food and drink producers from 32 states.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 16, 2014) – Nearly 700 people assembled tonight to fete the 2014 Good Food Awards winners at the fourth annual Good Food Awards Ceremony at San Francisco’s historic Palace of Fine Arts. The evening honored this year’s 130 winning food and drink producers from 32 states with a shared a passion for delicious, mindfully produced food. Culinary luminaries Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Nell Newman honored the 2014 winners onstage. The Ceremony commenced with opening remarks from M.C. Dr.Zeke Emanuel, co-founder of the Farmers Market at the White House and advisor to President Obama on health care, who noted the integral link between health and the growth of sustainable food communities across the country.
Sarah Weiner, Director of Seedling Projects in her closing remarks, summed up the potential impact for small producers as she congratulated winners for their integrity and likened them to the cultural revolutionaries of the 60’s:
“We are living in a time of great shifts and uncertainty. People are tiring of the accumulation of things, faster, more information, more productivity, and seeking a different way to live. But they need someone to show them the way. A way to cut through the surface and reach human generosity, a thoughtful way, a connected way, a joyful way to live. Food is the way, and you are the poet-revolutionaries to lead us there.”
The festivities continued with a gala reception where winning products were enjoyed in abundance. Alongside regional tasting plates of cheese, charcuterie, pickles, preserves, confections and chocolates, a handful of San Francisco chefs created unique dishes highlighting winning products, includingChristopher Thompson of A16, Francis Hogan of Bluestem Brasserie, Parke Ulrich of Epic Roasthouse and Waterbar, Annie Somerville of Greens Restaurant, Robin Song of Hi Lo BBQ and Hog & Rocks, Liza Shaw of Merigan Sub Shop, Telmo Faria of Tacolicious, Evan Bloom & Leo Beckerman of Wise Sons, and Renee Diskowski and Jill Thomas of Whole Foods Market.
This year’s winners were selected from 1,450 entries from all 50 states in a Blind Tasting held in September. The 225 judges, experts in their various industries, flew to San Francisco for a full day of blind tasting. Those that rose to the top were subject to a rigorous vetting process to verify they met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria to win a Good Food Award. This year’s Good Food Award winners exemplify excellence in both taste and responsible production.