Around 1998 the Southern Cheese Guild came to life when several small and beginning creameries, including Goat Lady Dairy (NC), Vicki Dunaway (VA), Sweet Home Farm (AL), Bosky Acres Goat Farm (NC, no longer in operation), Chapel Hill Creamery (NC), Prodigal Farm (NC), Yellow Branch Cheese (NC), Oakmoon Creamery (NC), Dark Cove Creamery (NC) and Celebrity Dairy (NC) joined forced to share cheesemaking resources. The Guild was as simple as an annual meeting where cheesemakers gathered at someone's dairy for a cheesemaking workshop.
Many of these starting members had connected through the Hometown Creamery Revival Project or through the American Cheese Society. Initially the group wanted to physically gather and work together, as educational workshops and cooperative purchasing. It turned out, however, to be difficult because of the geographic spread and the fact that most cheesemakers are super-busy. Consequently, the group became a support group that communicated mainly online. With time and as each creamery needed less and less start-up resources, the Guild went dormant.
Bringing It Back to Life…
In 2018, it felt like the time was right to bring the spotlight to the Southeast and to gather cheesemakers together onto some sort of platform. A small group of cheese lovers met at the ACS conference in Pittsburgh and figured out how to bring the Guild back to life. We now have a Facebook group and page, meet quarterly on conference calls and more frequently by email. We are cheesemakers, cheese shop representatives, distributors and affineurs Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama. Our hope is that artisan-scale cheese production will continue to expand in the region and that more and more tourists and eaters will see our corner of the U.S. as a ‘cheese lovers destination’!