On-Board with Jack Holman, Cheese Maker at Yarra Valley Dairy!

For lovers of great local cheese, the Yarra Valley Dairy simply must be on your list! Departing daily, our Gourmet Food & Wine tour stops by to sample the valley’s freshest cheeses. Today we catch up with Jack Holman, Cheese Maker at Yarra Valley Dairy!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Originally from the Adelaide Hills, I’ve lived here in the Yarra Valley for over 15 years now. I’ll take the outdoors and the bush over the city any day, and my (very limited) spare time is spent with my young family exploring, camping and foraging around this amazing country.

Why did you decide to become a cheesemaker?

On a trip to India 25 years ago, I met three third-generation French cheesemakers. After visiting their farm in Southern France and experiencing first hand the art of cheese making, the course of my life was changed forever. I just had to make cheese.

What is your favourite cheese?

My favourite cheeses are the mountain cheeses of southern France (Comte, Beaufort, Emmental). Semi-hard cooked curd cows milk cheeses

What`s your favourite part of your job?

Making cheese, of course! I’m able to experiment with one of life’s simplest products – milk. We make so many different cheeses all from this one base product. I’m pretty lucky.

                                                                                                                                                  In your opinion, what’s the best way to eat cheese?

I love melted cheese by the campfire. You might toast a marshmallow, but I cook a piece of Comte on a stick!

What does your typical day look like?

3am start! I start with preparing the factory for the day, brining fetta, flipping white mould cheeses, receiving milk from our suppliers, and making cheese. And cleaning! Cheese making is 60% cleaning.

When experiencing a cheese tasting, is there a specific order to tasting different cheeses in terms of strength or flavour?

Milder goats milk cheeses first, followed by heavier cows milk. Goats milk is higher in acidity than cows and the creaminess makes it difficult on the palate to come back to the citrus notes of goats milk.

Do you have a specialty cheese?

We make a semi-hard cows milk cheese called Harrier, named after a local bird quite often seen perching on the fence posts here on the farm. It’s matured anywhere between 6-9 months.  The cheese takes a journey for months after continuous salting, turning and watching its progress. It has a nutty, sweet flavour.  almost like those mountain cheeses that I love!

What’s the most interesting cheese you’ve ever made?

Inspired by a cheese I tasted on a working trip I took to France, I made a semi-soft washed rind goats cheese that was surrounded in paperbark from local Yarra Valley trees. It was a homage of sorts to a similar cypress bark rind cheese and equally as delicious.

Go West Tours specialises in unforgettable Yarra Valley Winery Tours. So if, like Jack, food and drink is your passion join us on our Gourmet Food & Wine tour , where we provide a fine blend of the very best of the region’s gourmet produce.