Mt. Mansfield Creamery: The Secret Behind the Award-Winning Cheese ProducerDec 30, 2020 03:24AM ● By Virginia Dean
Up to ten Vermont-made, one-of-a-kind cheeses are what make Mt. Mansfield Creamery so special in addition to the tender loving care owners Stan Biasini and Debora Wickart put into their products for all to savor.
The family farm of over 30 Holstein and Brown Swiss cows produces milk that also supports the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery. The cows are raised with rotational grazing in the summer months and fed grain and hay during the winter for an authentic farmstead product.
Founded in 2009, the creamery lies four miles from the farm and is housed in the original cheese facility in the heart of Morrisville in the old United Farmers Creamery building that was renovated and now houses two cheese caves in the basement.
The development of these caves has helped to ensure the natural rind products for which Mt. Mansfield Creamery is known. The rinds of the 100 percent Vermont farm product are washed and brushed to keep them thin to ensure the product is totally edible.
“I think we have a unique product due to the microflora in the caves that help to develop our beautiful rind cheeses,” says Stan.
The seeds of Mt. Mansfield Creamery were planted as a result of the declining building trades in which Stan was a professional carpet installer and the head of his own company. Prior to that, he attended Paul Smith College in upstate New York, graduating with a degree in hotel/restaurant management.
In order for the creamery to grow, Stan took a two-day cheese class with world-renowned cheesemaker Peter Dixon at the Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vermont. From there, he worked with Success on Farms at the Intervale Center in Burlington to put together a business plan in which he established branding for Mt. Mansfield Creamery, naming all the cheeses after ski trails in Stowe.
Stan is a Level 3 American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) certified snowboard instructor and a Level 3 Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Alpine instructor. He currently teaches part-time at Stowe.
The Creamery is a farmstead cheese operation and uses its own milk to make its award-winning cheeses. Debora and the family tend to the farm and milk the cows, and Stan concentrates on developing unique cheese recipes that blend European traditions and Vermont flavors.
The current recipes include Forerunner, the creamery’s premiere raw milk Havarti that is aged for three months. It features a full body flavor with buttery notes and is perfect for melted cheese on burgers, for example. Inspiration is a washed rind raw milk cheese from Corsican recipe. The molds on the rind are typical of this French cheese that offers smooth and semisoft texture with a nutty flavor. The rinds are washed with a variety of local Vermont beers depending on the season. Chin Clip is based on a raw milk recipe from the Austrian Alps, providing a full season flavor. Aged four months, this natural rind cheese has complex flavors and pairs well with red wine.
Halfpipe is a French Alpine cheese that pairs well with white wine or fruits and vegetables and is perfect for fondues. Aged five months, it boasts a high moisture content with a hint of salt at the finish. Sunrise is an aged cow’s milk Romano cheese that has been rubbed with Lake Champlain organic cocoa and olive oil, giving it a distinct flavor as it ages for 8 to 14 months to allow it to develop more slowly.
Tres Amigos is a cheese that incorporates sundried tomatoes, garlic, and onions giving it a spicy flavor that lingers on the palette. Look for this product during the Cinco de Mayo season. Gondolier is an herb Havarti seasoned with garlic, onion, parsley, celery, and chives. Many restaurants use it to melt over their burgers. Patrolman’s Blues is a raw milk, blue-veined cheese aged three months that has a pronounced and pungent flavor. Hayride is distinct in its flavor and body and has been aged for nine months. The rinds of this cheese are washed in a brine solution to develop its unique flavor. It has a high moisture content and goes well with white wine. The recipe is Austrian Tomme, similar to that of the Chin Clip, and distinct in its flavor and body. Lookout—available only in the winter months—uses a Havarti recipe including hot chili. Featuring a smooth texture with added spice at the finish, this cheese pairs well with chili.
Stan says he prefers beer with Inspiration, washed with Heady Topper from Alchemist Beer as well as Trosten from von Trapp Brewing. Another of his favorite washes is the Mosaic from Lost Nation Brewing. In 2011, Inspiration, washed with Rock Art Brewery’s Mountain Holidays in Vermont, won second place at the American Cheese Society.
The Chin Clip pairs well with red wine, Stan says, while the Halfpipe pairs well with chardonnay or champagne. Halfpipe and Forerunner go nicely with ciders from Stowe Cider, Eden Ice Cider, and the Dirty Mayor from Citizens Cider.
“One of my favorite collaborations in tasting is our Sunrise paired with 104 Porter from my friends at First Republic Brewery,” Stan says.
Although the creamery doesn’t have a signature cheese, its Patrolman’s Blues has become a bestseller, Stan notes.
“I was one of the first patrolmen in Stowe to certify on a snowboard and one of only two to be certified on a snowboard, skis, and telemark skis,” he says. “So, this cheese is dedicated to all patrolmen out there who keep us safe as well as drag us off the hill in a sled when in dire need.”
This blue cheese will also be in a specialty program next March called “Cave to Co-op” throughout New England.
“Our wholesale accounts are Black River Produce, Provisions International, and Seacrest Foods,” says Stan. “We are also members of the Vermont Cheese Council as well as the American Cheese Society.”
While winning awards at the American Cheese Society is “great,” Stan says, Inspiration took second in 2011. Forerunner and Sunrise took second and third in 2015, and the Creamery’s collaboration cheese with Sage Farm Goat Dairy garnered a first-place finish in 2019 with a Parmesan named Starr. Stan says he used 40 gallons of goats’ milk and 80 gallons of cows’ milk to produce this award-winning cheese.
The transformation of Stan the businessman to Stan the cheesemaker is one that he does not regret.
“Our proudest moment is when a customer tells us how incredible our cheese is or seeing a picture on social media that someone posted of one of our cheeses,” says Stan. “It’s crazy to travel to different parts of New England to see our cheese in the cheese case or sit down for dinner and see a few of our cheeses on the menu, but it really makes the work gratifying.”