Cheese of the Week: Rogue Smokey Blue
In 2002, Cary Bryant and David Gremmels purchased Rogue Creamery from the Vella family. Rogue's cheesemaking roots date back to the 1930s when Tom Vella, founder of the Vella Cheese Factory in Sonoma, California, opened a facility in Southern Oregon in the midst of the Depression. Cary and David learned the craft of making great blue cheese from Tom's son, Ig, and dove head first into rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of the cheese house and retail store.
They now buy milk from two local dairies and have recently purchased their own dairy and herd of Brown Swiss and Holstein cows to make their fine collection of artisan cheeses.
Not only did Rogue make the West Coast's first blue cheese, but they also created the first-ever smoked blue. For the production of Smokey Blue, Rogue selects some of their wheels of Oregon Blue and cold smokes them for 16 hours over northwest-grown hazelnut shells.
At the time of release, wheels are about six months of age. The texture of Smokey Blue is smooth and dense, punctuated with deep, blue-colored pockets of mold. The exterior rind is a golden-brown color. Flavors are a wonderfully complex balance, with sweet notes of wood, earth, and grass, balanced by spice and smoke. The result is smooth blue cheese reminiscent of candied bacon. Organic.