Alexandrina Cheese Company: Victor Harbor in the Fleurieu Peninsula region of South Australia
For a certain herd of well fed Jersey cows, life in the picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula is not too bad. They are the culmination of a dream for one family whose members have come from various parts of the globe to establish a dairy with a difference. When you enter the Alexandrina Cheese Company between Mount Compass and Victor Harbor there's a fair chance some of the family will be on hand to help with a tasting. Alexandrina Cheeses produce farmhouse style, handmade cheeses from their individually named herd of healthy, grass fed cows.
“Quite salty really isn't it? It's a new product which is not really available anywhere else in South Australia... So we're very lucky.”
Becky McCaul is the marketing department with her mum, Krystyna. While Krystyna's parents, George and Cathe Manowski are what could be called the founding venture capitalists. After all, it was George who took over the dairy property when he come to Australia as a displaced person from war-torn Poland.
Now it's grown from dairy to cheesery where Krystyna's husband Dan McCaul begins the morning ritual of unloading a thousand litres of Jersey milk into stainless steel vats - under the watchful eye of his dad Kevin, the Master Cheesemaker.
The McCauls have been making cheese for generations, both here in Australia and back in Ireland before Kevin's father emigrated from County Cork more than a century ago.
“We actually turn the cheddar in an open vat. We've gone back forty fifty years in time - the way Dad did when he was a lad. Dad started working in a cheese factory when he left school at the age of fifteen. His father started when he left school in 1902.”
After the cream has been separated, in goes the starter culture and eventually the rennet. It’s then up to the stirring blades and nature to work their magic
After half an hour or so the mixture separates into curds and whey and Kevin gives the all clear to begin cutting what will become another batch of English Cheddar. The curds, which are the thicker pieces, are later separated and milled or compacted into cloth lined cheddar containers.
While that process continues yesterday's batch of Dutch Edam and Gouda cheeses are being unloaded. Each is salted and dipped in brine before being stored so they can mature for up to six weeks. An English Cheddar, on the other hand, can take many months to mature.
And to think all of this started with some rennet and a dash of culture - some Irish and some Polish.
“Yes - we're making an English cheddar and a traditional Dutch Edam and Gouda. In fact we're the only South Australian producers making these types of cheese.”
The Alexandrina Cheese Company is on Sneyd Road at Mount Jagged. Just look for the turn off as you pass Mount Compass on the way to Victor Harbor. It's open weekends and public holidays. If you have any further questions please email email@example.com or phone 61 (0)8 8554 9666