Cheese Making in the SCV

At a recent Santa Clarita Vintners and Growers Association blind Zinfandel tasting (separate post) we were in for a unique treat – and one that didn’t involve wine.

Corry De Robertis, seemingly plucked from the dairies of his ancestor’s home in Italy, walked in to a room of wine makers with: Goat Balls.

Corry happens to be a home cheese maker. Not satisfied with kits, he found them as a jump – start to an interest not unlike the winemakers surrounding him in palatable interest. Corry had found a way to express his need to make something with his hands in a way wine makers, and non-wine makers, could appreciate.

Like having wine with winemakers or beer in a beer garden, having fresh homemade cheese was a treat no one was prepared for. Surprising, delicate, attractive and incredibly flavorful.

“I brought Sauvignon Blanc because it pairs well with goat cheese and it also would cleanse our palate so we could accurately taste the Zin later. My goat cheeses tend to lay on the palate for several minutes or more. The high acidity breaks through and cleanses away the “goaty” flavor.”

Corry is considering a cheese making party as one of his cheeses, the mozzarella, takes only 30 minutes to set up. But for the purists, that know they can’t buy these cheeses anywhere and don’t know Corry’s address, here is a sampling of the talent Corry shared with us:

Cheese making is my passion (I absolutely love wine too!). Similar to wine, cheese is an expression of the land and climate (terrior). For me, the terrior changes week by week. I am at the mercy of the ever-changing local milk supply at the market.

In the last couple years, the milk supply in the U.S. has been over pasteurized (heated to extreme temperatures so it lasts longer), making home cheese making a bit of a challenge.

I might have a “connection” to some farm fresh milk! Senior Hernandez, where are you? In the meantime, I use the milk available to me. (editor’s note: To learn more about Senior Hernandez’s cheese connection try starting here:

I love spending time in my kitchen creating new cheeses. Each one with its own personality. Sometimes refreshing, delicate and young like a white wine and other times complex, robust and aged like a full bodied red.

At the SCV Vintner’s dinner, I showcased a few cheeses. Two got the most attention. The first was a fresh cow’s milk Mozzarella filled with Jalapeno cream. Similar to a cheese from Pulia Italy where my mother was born called “Burrata” except I kick it up a notch with jalapeno peppers. Light and delicate on the outside, but packed with “heat” on the inside.

The other cheese was a mold ripened goat cheese. I brought 2 styles. One was ripened with white Penicillin mold. (The same mold that forms the rind on Brie.) The mold softens the cheese and imparts earthy flavors. I formed some into small “goatballs” and the others into 3 inch wheels. The second style I used white mold and then brushed vegetable ash on them before the mold developed. This adds another flavor component and looks kind of cool like a geode stone when sliced. They are similar to a cheese from Indiana called the “Wabash Cannonball”.

Like with all cheeses the aging process AKA “afinage” is where it gets tricky. This requires daily flipping and monitoring humidity to ensure mold growth. This year I am focusing on rind development. There are so many possibilities. I might even try a wine soaked cheese.
Fresh bread, a piece of cheese and a glass of wine with my wife and friends …. Is there anything better? I don’t think so.


5 thoughts on “Cheese Making in the SCV

  1. Corry, You are an artist and the cheese was abolutely amazing buddy. Now for that wine soaked cheese… Pulchella will gladly donate the wine!!!

  2. Megan,
    I'll take you up on the Pulchella!!

    Hey Zinfan,
    I might bring some cheese to the next "Sunset in the Vineyard" funraiser in Santa Clarita.

    "Lactose people", I think Goat cheese is OK. I hope.

    Corry D.

Comments are closed.