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Published on Oct 1, 2018
Modern Living in the Old South
Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse ramping up cheese production for the holidays
In a strip of stores on Highway 61, a family of three spends hours each week working with curds and whey, making batches of blooming rind brie, raw milk cheddar, burrata and pimento cheese by hand.
It might not have been exactly what Heather and Pete Holmes were planning when they moved here nearly five years ago from Manhattan with their son Declan, but they were looking for a different life, and they say they’ve certainly found it.
In New York, the two were working in the retail and fashion world, living in a small apartment and feeling like they were missing out on a certain quality of life. They chose Charleston for its smaller scale. “But it’s still a great city with culture, art and food,” says Heather Holmes.
They soon connected with friends in Charleston and ended up partnering with Greg Tatis to purchase Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse from Jared Jones, who had set up a viable business with branding and cheese molds.
“It was a phenomenal place to step off from,” says Pete Holmes, the primary cheese maker, who also works a full-time job so his family can afford health insurance.
Unfortunately, by the time the new partners took over, cheese production had stopped and the existing client base had wilted, so they had to build it back up. Eventually, the partnership ended unhappily, and the Holmes kept the cheeses, Tatis says.
While Pete mostly makes the cheese with the occasional help of his 13-year-old son, Heather does most of the selling, traveling to farmers markets and Junior League parties and delivering to restaurants and retailers.
In the past year, to recover from the partnership dissolving, the Holmes family has focused on making a lot of cream cheese. “Because we can make it today and sell it tomorrow,” Pete says.
Cheddar and brie require longer aging in order to develop flavor.
They also started marketing their Fromage Frais to chefs like Nico Romo at NICO and Travis Grimes at Husk. “It’s like chevre,” Pete says. “It’s light and airy with a nice tang.”
For the holidays, they’ve been selling Le Creuset crocks with flavored baked brie — cranberry and pecans, sun-dried tomato and pesto — and are working on ways to get fresh curds into chefs’ hands for poutine and other creative applications.
“In the next six months, I hope to be able to make cheese full time,” says Pete, who says they have room to double, even triple their current cheesemaking capacity.
When that time comes, they’ll be ready to transform the front of the shop into an actual Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse retail store with a variety of locally made artisanal products for sale, not just cheese. Until then, you can purchase their products online or at your favorite farmers market.
Author + Photographer
Honored to be included on The Faces of Local Food authors by Charlotte Caldwell
Thank you Charleston City Paper for the amazing mention in local gift ideas.
Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse
Cheese is always in good taste. The Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse is a "true artisan cheese producer" with products that are "hand poured, cultured, mixed, molded, salted, aged and wrapped all by hand" on location in Charleston. They use low temperature pasteurized milk from Hickory Hill cows located in Edgefield, S.C., and raw whole milk from Green Grocer Jersey cows located on Wadmalaw Island. The Chardonnay Wash ($30 for 11 oz.) would be the perfect gift and or contribution to a pot luck. This semi-hard cheese is aged approximately eight weeks and absorbs the characteristics of Chard, making it crisp and oaky. Order online or visit the cheesemongers at a number of local farmers markets.
Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse
Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse Charleston Caviar in Parade Magazines 50 must have by state.
Made in America: Gifts From Each of the 50 States
This holiday season, Parade has compiled unique gifts from every state to celebrate the artisans in our local communities. Launch the gallery to see our top picks of all shapes, sizes and prices from each of the 50 states.
"Artisan Cheese Makers are popping up all over the south and across America. Why is that"?
Wild Boar is a flavored version of Charleston Cheesehouse’s flagship Battery Park. Described as a cross between a brie and a farm cheese, the production process for these these bloomy-rinded discs is completely done by hand, from pouring the milk into the vat, to molding, flipping, wrapping and labeling. In production of this version, wild mushrooms and Oregon black truffles are incorporated into the curd. Discs are aged for three to four weeks
Charleston Cheesehouse’s flagship Battery Park. Described as a cross between a brie and a farm cheese, the production process for these these bloomy-rinded discs is completely done by hand, from pouring the milk into the vat, to molding, flipping, wrapping and labeling.
Dutch Chocolate is a flavored version of Charleston Cheesehouse’s flagship Battery Park. Described as a cross between a brie and a farm cheese, the production process for these these bloomy-rinded discs is completely done by hand, from pouring the milk into the vat, to molding, flipping, wrapping and labeling
Inspired by an Ecuadorian tradition of drinking hot cocoa alongside cheese, this cheese reveals a gorgeous brown marbling beneath its fuzzy white rind, due to the addition of single-origin cocoa to the curds before molding. Discs are aged from three to four weeks.
Chardonnay Wash is an aged version of Charleston Cheesehouse’s flagship Battery Park, originally inspired by the successful pairing of that cheese with chardonnay. The production process for the cheese is completely done by hand, from pouring the milk into the vat, to molding, flipping, wrapping and labeling.
While Chardonnay Wash begins as a bloomy-rind cheese, it’s aged quite differently from Battery Park and Charleston Cheesehouse’s other cheeses, in a drier environment. During the beginning of the ripening stage, the cheese is washed in chardonnay and rotated every other day. As a result the cheese develops quite differently during eight weeks of affinage, becoming much more firm with a less visible white surface. Because of its dryness and firmness, one might think that it was a pressed cheese, but it’s not; molds are simply filled with curds, left to rest and periodically flipped.
November 27, 2014 By Bill Davis | News Editor