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The drama! The intrigue! In a battle of the taste buds who will survive?! *cue dramatic Iron Chef-type music*
Huh? Are we watching reality television? Is this thing on?
Fortunately (or unfortunately) there will be no Kiva reality series. (Although, I tend to think it would make for some very entertaining material!)
There will, however, be another monthly wine and cheese pairing featuring notes from Ziggy and Josh, our wine and cheese buyers. This one is particularly interesting because of their difference of opinion. There is only one way to settle this dispute and that is to taste for yourself!
Ziggy: Since it’s beginning to look like spring is here, everything is coming up rosés.
If you think sweet and sickly when you see pink, you might want to rethink your drink. Rosés are often misunderstood and their versatility can be under-appreciated.
A rosé wine can vary in color from palest pink through peach and orange hues to varied shades of clear, vivid red; and can vary in palate from delicate to bold. Some, yes, are sweet, and some are dry with varying degrees of tannin. The right rosé can complement a mild fish dish or take on a grilled steak, and the color alone won’t tell you a great deal about the character of the wine.
There are several ways rosés arrive at their rosy hue. Most are made from grapes used to make red wine, either as a single varietal or a blend, and colored by being allowed to remain in contact with the skins, where the pigment resides. Others may be produced by blending white and red wines. While this is not a popular method in many regions, there are some very tasty wines that result from it.
Most rosés will be crisp and have vivid fresh fruit notes like strawberry, cherry, apricot or melon, and, served chilled, will complement and enhance a summer afternoon or evening.
We chose Territorial’s Pinot Noir Rosé for our pairing this month. The Kiva has carried Territorial wines for many years, and their Rosé has shown consistent quality and been a steady seller.
We are currently stocking the 2010 Rosé; and the 2011 is expected in soon. I and my tasting partner found it to be drinking extremely well. While the usual advice about drinking rosé fresh is good, many will continue to show well for at least one or two years after bottling. Don’t throw ‘em away without uncorking a taste.
We found the 2010 to have a bright, deep rose color. On the nose, I found notes of violet and strawberry lollipop. The palate was light, bright, and crisp with lots of soft, icy fruit including cherry and stone fruits. We drank it chilled but not iced.
My tasting partner and I particularly liked the rosé with the Fern’s Edge Pleasant Hill cheese, which has a young, sharpish cheddar-like flavor, a crumbly texture, and a bite on the finish. This cheese brought out fresh fruity notes in the wine. Of the Fern’s Edge cheese we tried, this pairing was by far our favorite.
While Josh and Emma especially enjoyed the Mt. Zion with the rosé, I have to disagree. The cheese is excellent–earthy, meaty, and scrumptious–but I wanted to pair it with a big, rich, full-bodied wine (like a Washington Cabernet). I found that it made the rosé taste alkaline and overpowered its bright and fruit notes.
The feta was fresh, rich, mild, and, while salty, it was not overpoweringly so. We thought it went well with the Territorial Rosé and brought out some tannin on the palate.
The Five Corners was soft, initially mild, but with a complex buttery musk on the finish. The Territorial Rosé was a pleasing accompaniment, but the butteriness of the cheese seemed to blunt the wine’s acidic crispness a little.
Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Pays d’Oc 2011: Less than 1000 cases produced. I found this to be crisp and lucid, with clean, clear berry fruits. Quite dry but not acerbic. Made from a blend of Grenache and Cinsault grapes from the Roussillon region. Many pairings are possible, but grilled chicken and vegetables is a top choice. $15.50
Calcu Rosé 2010: A perennial favorite of mine from the Valle de Colchagua, Chile. Made from 50% Malbec, 40% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot, there is some complexity to this round, slightly magical blend. It deserves its name, which means “magician” in a local language. $11.75
Druid’s Fluid Pink 2009: Lightly sweet, fruity, and easy to drink, Druid’s Fluid wines hail from Oregon’s Troon Vineyards in the Applegate Valley. If you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser, it’s “the wine for everyone”–in their own words. $12.00
Hey Mambo Kinky Pink 2010: A California Pinot Noir Rosé. A tasty, dry rosé that will cool off a hot afternoon, accompany salmon on the barbeque, or otherwise serve any function you desire of a dry rosé. Good value–and a fun name. $10.50
Melrose Two Dog Red 2009: Sweet but not too sweet, with a residual sugar of 1.7%, this rosé contains a fair amount of Pinot Gris. Another easy quaffer for a warm summer night, it would also make a good aperitif with many hors d’oeuvres. $12.00
Cardwell Hill Rosé of Pinot Noir 2011: From a small producer of excellent Pinot Noir, Cardwell Hill’s Rosé is dry and bright with a cherry/berry nose and a fresh finish. A fine value and versatile dinner guest from the Willamette Valley. $10.50
Charles & Charles Rosé 2011: Yes, you can drink rosé and still be bad… Edgy packaging and copy, and a solid mouthful of dry, bright syrah rosé. A bucket of ice is all it lacks. $10.50
Del Rio Rosé Jolee: A rosé that tastes sweeter than its official figure of .5% residual sugar because of the predominance of the heavenly fragrant Early Muscat that makes up 63% of the blend. 17% Riesling and 20% blend of red grapes makes up the rest of this salmon-colored wine that would be equally at home with spicy Asian food or a cheesecake dessert. $11.75
This list is not exhaustive, and it doesn’t even touch sparkling rosés, which also come in a spectrum ranging from the fascinating, complicated, and elegant to fizzy pink grown-up soda-pop. As the season warms up (yes, it will–I think it will…) we’ll be seeing more rosés from France, Spain, and Italy. Ask Ziggy to tell you exactly what’s in stock!
Josh: “I don’t have to go away for the weekend, I’m already here, ” says Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy owner, Shari, as she casts a proud glance across her farm indicating her view of Dexter Lake through the trees. She has been raising award-winning dairy goats at her beautiful farm in Lowell since the early 1970’s.
Happy goats produce good-quality milk, and her goats have every reason to be happy. Each goat is named and cared for as a member of the family, grows up on organic feed, dutifully produces milk, and then retires with her fellow “beloved old ladies” to live out her days in the bucolic pastures of the farm. She pays to have each goat’s milk tested every three weeks to ensure the health of the animals and the quality of the milk. Her impeccably-clean dairy results in fresh, clean-tasting cheeses that would never be described as “goaty”.
I chose to celebrate this devotion to sustainable farming, happy, healthy goats, and high-quality local cheese, by selecting Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy’s pride and joy, their Mt. Zion aged goat cheese, for this month’s wine and cheese pairing:
The Wine: Territorial Vineyard’s Rosé is fruity, bright and clean, portending of lazy summer evenings to come.
The Cheese: Mt. Zion is a raw, toothsome aged artisan farmstead goat cheese in the style of a Spanish Manchego. This cheese serves as a showpiece for a great collaboration between the goat herd owner and cheese-maker that brings together decades of of dairy goat experience with generations of cheese-making experience.
The Pairing: A good, straight-ahead, innocently refreshing rosé meets an older, more seasoned cheese and suddenly becomes more interesting.
|Roger and Emma, excited to be touring the Alpenrose facilities!|
The daily routine is the same at all three farms, so allow us to share with you the life of a Yeager dairy cow. The cows are milked first thing in the morning, then fed, bred (if it is the right time of the cycle for the individual cow) or pastured for at least eight hours to graze, then fed again before a final milking and bedtime.
All the cows receive at least eight hours of pasture time each day. They are bred when they are from 15-22 months, if they meet the weight requirement. Each cow is milked for 300 days a year and given 60 days off from milking. All three farms hold the title of “Animal Welfare Approved” which means that they are inspected and certified by the Animal Welfare Society. These are not factory farms.
The cows’ supplemental feed consists of alfalfa, corn, barley meal, mineral supplements and protein meal (the protein meal is sourced from flax, canola or sunflower when available; soy is only used when the other three are not available, and even then the soy is non-GMO and grown in the U.S.). The corn is grown on the farm, and overall, 75% of the feed is grown in Oregon!
Of course, this feed is only supplemental. The 130 acres of the Mayfield farm are broken into 27 different grazing pastures. Each pasture is approximately five acres and the pastures are rotated when the cows have eaten the grass down to two inches. Because this area of the country is so rainy, the fields are equipped with drainage ditches to prevent the cows from standing around in muddy water which could lead to hoof rot or other problems. Look at these happy cows!
The calves are kept together in groups of 10-15 per paddock because they are social animals. There is always fresh hay for the calves to lay in and a milking station where they can get milk. The calves are fed pasteurized milk to prevent any possible bacterial contamination. They are fed nothing but milk for the first four months of their lives. Each calf is tagged with a microchip, which tracks (among other things) how much milk the calf is consuming. The milk station is also equipped with a micro-chip which will cut off a greedy cow, ensuring that all the calves have equal access to the milk. The calves are weaned at four months and begin eating the regular feed and grazing in the pastures with the rest of the herd.
Most male calves are sold to other farms, but some of the ones with impressive pedigrees are kept to act as stud bulls on the farm.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… Manure?
One sometimes unwanted side effect of having a herd of cows is all the manure that piles up. At the Yeager farms, the manure is collected and the solids are separated from the liquid slurry. The solids go into a heated rotating drum, which sterilizes the solid matter and turns it into a safe crumbly material used on the farm as bedding for the cows and fertilizer for the feed crops. The liquid slurry is used on the farm as a fertilizer and any excess is sold for the same purpose. The Yeagers’ were quite excited about reusing so much of the waste on site at the farm; in particular, not having to spend money to truck in straw bedding has been of great help.
|Chris Yeager with a handful of of the dry, sterile material separated from the manure.|
Two people oversee the milking operation. First, they check the cow’s teats to make sure the milk has been let down and that there are no problems with the teats. The teats and instruments are cleaned and sterilized. If any problems are detected with a cow, they are not milked until approved by a veterinarian.
The milking equipment is checked every month by a certified inspector to ensure the pressure is correct so that the milking process is not painful for the cows. Safety of the cows is paramount, and every possible measure is taken to ensure that the milking process is as clean and comfortable as it can be.
When the milk comes out of the cow it is typically 80 degrees F, and then is cooled to 37 degrees to prevent any bacteria growth. The two tanks that hold the milk get cleaned every single day. Each tank can hold up to 8,000 gallons.
Each cow’s milk production is tracked each day. Typically, a cow will produce between 30-60 pounds of milk per day, depending on age and stage in the breeding cycle. Cows usually produce slightly more milk in the morning milking than the evening, with approximately 55% coming from the morning milking and 45% from the evening. Tracking milk production is just one of many uses for microchip technology at the dairy.
Each cow wears a pedometer to monitor activity and other vital signs. The micro-chips in the pedometer and the ear tag allow for a surprising amount of information to be tracked for each individual cow. The herd managers keep really close tabs on the cows’ activity levels and breeding cycles, to avoid over-milking a cow and shortening its productive lifespan. This kind of digital herd management has raised the average productive milking life-span of a cow on the this farm to seven years, about three years more than the typical dairy cow’s productive life-span. Knowing when to avoid over-milking a cow, knowing exactly where in the breeding cycle a cow is, knowing exactly how much milk a cow has produced – these are the kinds of things that the micro-chip technology employed on the farm helps with.
A sick cow is immediately isolated from the herd and checked by a veterinarian. Natural remedies such as garlic, aloe vera and iodine are used whenever possible. If the cow’s health and life is in danger, antibiotics will be used to help the cow, which is then sold to another farm.
Cows that have received antibiotics are NEVER reintroduced into the milking herd.
Processing the Milk
All the milk is taken to the Alpenrose processing plant which is only 20 miles down the road from the farm. This is truly remarkable in this day and age, and anyone concerned with the carbon footprint of shopping choices should take note that milk is typically trucked long distances from rural farms to processing plants. For instance, while family farmers in Oregon contribute milk to Organic Valley’s “Northwest Pastures” line, their milk is trucked hundreds of miles to a processing plant in Seattle before being trucked back down to appear in Oregon stores. When you buy organic Alpenrose milk, you can rest assured that every step of the way your money is staying in the local economy, from the dairy farmer to the processor to the distributor (our Alpenrose milk is actually delivered to us by Lochmead, another wonderful local dairy that provides us with non-organic milk and delicious ice cream).
|We were impressed with how spotlessly clean the processing plant was!|
Alpenrose Packing Plant was the first plant in Oregon to package and sell organic milk. The plant has been family owned since its beginning and many of the staff as well as the owner live at the Alpenrose site.
The plant receives tankers of milk every day, and the milk is immediately taken to an on-site pasteurization machine for the pasteurization process. They pasteurize the milk at 165 degrees F, just slightly above the lowest legal temperature allowed of 161 degrees F, to ensure that as little of the nutritional value of the milk as possible is destroyed in the pasteurization process. All of the waste water produced by the plant goes into a filtering pond that cleans the water, before channelling it into the sewer. This prevents any leakage into the groundwater supply.
Alpenrose Community Spirit:
Alpenrose is extremely active in their community. They own and maintain three little league baseball fields on their property. They also host the girls Little League Softball World Series as seen on ESPN each year. There is also an Olympic-Regulation speed-bike track. There is even a Quarter Midget race track on the property! Alpenrose Dairy also hosts their Annual Easter Egg Hunt in which up to 6,000 kids and parents turn out to hunt for prizes. This hunt has been going on for 48 years now. Alpenrose sales and PR rep Tom Baker gave us a great tour and even dished us out fresh-made Alpenrose ice cream in the Dairyville Ice Cream Parlour!
Community picnics and social events are hosted on the manicured lawns, and “Dairyville” is a popular destination for birthday and holiday parties. Dairyville is a mock western town, complete with general store, opera house and an old time ice cream parlour! It is not open to the general public, but please call to inquire about specific events. Visit http://www.alpenrose.com/ to learn more about the wonderful activities that are hosted on the Alpenrose property.
|Tom Baker scooping the ice cream in the Dairyville Ice Cream Parlour|