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Briar Rose Creamery Madrona

Briar Rose Creamery Madrona

Washed-rind goat’s milk cheeses are rare, but when the person making one of this country’s best is cheesemaker Sarah Marcus, it’s hardly a surprise. Sarah and her husband, Jim Hoffman, opened the doors to their business called Briar Rose Creamery just three years ago, and with the build-up of their inventory has come the creamery’s stellar reputation for turning local goat’s milk into spectacular chèvre, both fresh and aged. (For good measure, Sarah also makes delicious chocolate goat cheese truffles).

One of Sarah’s proud creations, though made in limited quantities, is her cheese called Madrona. Named for her love for the Madrone tree, whose signature is a peeling red bark, the approximately two-pound wheel sports an evenly-colored orange rind, evidence of the beneficial bacteria that are encouraged to grow during the cheese aging process. These same bacteria are essential contributors to the cheese’s seductive roasted almond and cedar aromas. So too, its tangy, buttery, roasted mushroom, and well-done buttered popcorn flavors (really!). The semi-soft, silky texture on the tongue comes about through careful temperature and humidity control as well the cheesemaking process itself. As with all of Briar Rose Creamery’s cheeses, this one is pasteurized.

While Sarah releases Madrona at about four weeks, it really develops its flavor and creamy texture after two months or longer. Her favorite age for this cheese is around ten weeks, and I have to concur. Then again, I haven’t tasted it at any other age. All I know is that when I sampled the ten-week old piece, I discovered there was no single flavor clamoring for attention. Instead, the flavors together were like a beautifully choreographed dance for which all of my senses gave a standing ovation.

When Sarah and Jim decided to move to the heart of Oregon wine country in Dundee, little did anyone know they’d bring new meaning to the phrase, “cheese and wine.” Now, as word gets out about the quality of their cheeses, it’s a secret no longer. Sarah’s cheesemaking ability and passion has put Dundee on the cheesemaking map. And oh yeah, the wines aren’t too bad there either.
Briar Rose Creamery

Cheesemaker Sarah Marcus proudly displays a wheel of her Madrona
Briar Rose Creamery Madrona