Natural Pastures and 40 Knots collaborate for award-winning cheese

Finalist in three categories at the initial round of judging in national competition

A new, wine-infused, artisan cheese by Natural Pastures Cheese has made a surprising sweep as finalist in three categories at the initial round of judging for the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards.

Natural Pastures’ new Vin d’ici Chardonnay specialty cheese (pronounced van-dee-see) is a finalist in the Best Semi-Soft Cheese, Best New Cheese and Best B.C. Cheese categories. Natural Pastures’ fresh Cherry Cow Bocconcini and Water Buffalo Paneer have also been listed as finalists in their respective categories.

“We’re delighted with the results,” said Natural Pastures master cheesemaker Paul Sutter. “I knew it was a good cheese when I submitted it to the contest, and I was keen to hear what the judges thought. The texture is so smooth and it has a complex and savoury flavour.”

Vin d’ici (meaning ‘wine from here’) is a washed rind cheese using a Chardonnay from 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery, a prominent wine producer operating in the Comox Valley.

“Working with a local winery that makes a superb wine – it was a perfect combination,” said Sutter. “We sat down and tasted the cheese with their various wines and were very pleased with the outcome.”

Natural Pastures operations manager Doug Smith agreed that it is satisfying to work with such a high quality product. “Comox Valley is fast becoming a recognized area of innovation and expertise for artisan food and wine,” he said. “We have high hopes and expectations that this pairing with 40 Knots Winery will make this specialty cheese a customer favourite.”

40 Knots owners Brenda Hetman-Craig and Layne Robert Craig were thrilled to hear of the strong showing. “This is most deserving,” said Hetman-Craig. “Wine and cheese have always been a natural pairing and when an expert cheesemaker can bring those together, the flavour becomes greater than the sum of the two.”

The Canadian Cheese Awards are open to cheese produced in Canada using milk of Canadian cows, goats, sheep and water buffalo—with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients. Winners, chosen from the three finalists in each category, will be announced at the awards ceremony in Montreal on April 14.

“We’re also really pleased with the performance of our other cheeses,” said Smith. “Our Buffalo Paneer has been winning awards since we first started production, and the Cherry Bocconcini made with cow milk has just received a gold medal at the Canadian Grand Prix cheese awards. It’s very rewarding to be getting this level of recognition for our team’s efforts.”

Smith said the fresh mozzarella and paneer are still relatively unknown cheese types to many Canadians. Mozzarella is a soft, mild unripened cheese, best eaten within a week of production and delicious in a fresh caprese salad with tomatoes and fresh basil. Paneer is an unaged, non-melting, unsalted cheese used in cooking that is often added to produce richer, more flavourful curries and casseroles.

Smith emphasized that local producers in the Comox Valley are looking to work together and to support each other. He has spent countless hours meeting with various producers and discussing new product possibilities.

“Not every idea works—we’ve gone through many that haven’t. But,” he smiled, “when it works, it works very well.”

Smith also remarked that there are some amazing new cheeses being developed by cheesemakers across Canada. With free trade deals threatening to flood the market with less expensive imports, Smith has no doubt that Canadian cheese can stand up on the international market. “We’re excited to be amongst such a high calibre of cheesemakers,” he said.


Just Posted

Dinner, dance in honour of Kenny Shaw

Comox Legion honours one of the Valley’s prominent volunteers

Comox Valley Hospice Society Ultimate Fifty/50 Raffle winner announced

James Maxwell bought his ticket at Canadian Tire

Learn about the future sewer service in Courtenay and Comox

The public is invited to learn more about the Comox Valley sewer… Continue reading

VIDEO: Whale and sea lions at play near Mitlenatch Island

It was a spectacular sight Sunday evening near Mitlenatch Island for Thomas… Continue reading

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Comox Valley gives back

A look at some of the organizations and individuals who help out in the community

Opioid crisis may be shortening British Columbians’ life expectancy: report

Canada among healthiest wealthy countries, but 8,000 overdose deaths since 2016 are causing concern

Referendum info session in Courtenay

British Columbians will be voting this fall, from Oct. 22 through to… Continue reading

B.C. cold case helps ‘60 Minutes’ explain genetic genealogy

An arrest in the 1987 double-murder of two people from Victoria was one of three examples highlighted in a segment you can watch here

Delivery of cannabis could be impacted by postal strike

BC Liquor Distribution Branch look at alternative third-party delivery services

Local businesses that go above and beyond honoured at annual gala

Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island Torch Awards go Nov. 2 at the Union Club

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Rural regions get priority for B.C. referendum mail-out

Ballot security measures aim to protect against voter fraud

Most Read