Co-owner of Upper Bench Estate Winery & Creamery Shana Miller and her squad were making the specialty, in-demand cheese, Belle Marie, on Thursday morning. (Robin Grant-Western News)

FOODIE FRIDAY: Behind the scenes at South Okanagan state-of-the-art, artisan cheesemaking operation

Eating cheese is harder than making it

Hardworking cheesemakers are busy behind the scenes at the state-of-the-art operation at Upper Bench Estate Winery & Creamery in Penticton.

Head cheesemaker Shana Miller has owned the winery with her husband, award-winning winemaker, Gavin Miller, since 2010.

The creamery, located in the back of building, makes eight different, handcrafted, artisan cheeses — with its mild, blue cheese, called King Cole, being its most well-known, Miller said. This blue cheese was named after her father.

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All of the cheeses, which include washed-rind, brie, and blue cheeses, are gluten and additive free from pasturized Canadian cow’s milk from D Dutchmen Dairy in Sicamous.

“We make three batches of cheese a week,” said Miller on Thursday while making a fresh batch of the creamery’s newest addition, a tangy and sharp-flavoured cheese, Belle Marie.

It’s made by separating the delicate curds and then placing them spoonful-by-spoonful into the molds. It has a layer of black ash under a “white bloomy rind,” which makes it visually appealing. And it’s named after her mother.

Carefully crafting best-selling cheeses, adding up to about 6,000 kilograms a year, sounds difficult. But Miller said there’s a trick to it.

“After you’ve made the cheese, you can do different things with it to create different types.

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“Our two top blue cheeses — our Grey Baby and King Cole — it’s the same exact recipe, but two different techniques.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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