OUT OF THE BLUE
In 2002, David Gremmels and Cary Bryant planned to open a wine bar in Southern Oregon. In search of a hand-crafted blue cheese to pair, they visited the historic Rogue Creamery in Central Point, OR, originally founded as a small dairy by Tom Vella during the depression. Inspired by a cheese-making trip to Roquefort, France in the 1950’s, Vella returned home determined to make great blue cheese, designing a building that simulated the caves used in France. Oregon Blue was a success, but by the end of the century, the Creamery itself was struggling. Having loved Oregon Blue all their lives, Cary and David bonded immediately with Tom’s son Ignazio. Ig, known as “the Godfather of the artisan cheese industry” immediately offered to sell them the business that day, and standing on the front porch of the Creamery, a handshake sealed the deal.
Today, Rogue Creamery is thriving. David and Cary have dedicated themselves to upholding the principles of community and sustainability established by Tom and Ig Vella. Rogue Creamery is the first dairy and creamery to receive third party certification for sustainability through Food Alliance. In 2013, they ranked in the Top 10 of Oregon Magazine’s 100 Best Green Companies and earned an SBA Director’s Impact Award from the Portland District Office of the Small Business Administration. And in January 2015, David Gremmels won the Specialty Food Association Business Leadership Award “honoring members who have gone above and beyond in advancing food standards in society—and society itself—by creating social, economic and environmental impact through innovation and vision.”
The Creamery’s cheeses have won countless awards, including Best in Show for Rogue River Blue at the 2009 American Cheese Society in Austin, TX; Gold Medal: Outstanding USDA-Certified Organic Product for Flora Nelle Blue Cheese at the 2012 Annual National Association for Specialty Food Trade sofi Awards, and the Super Gold Medal for Caveman Blue Cheese 2014 at the World Cheese Awards in London, England, a decade after being the first US creamery to win World’s Best Blue Cheese in London in 2003.
You can visit Rogue Creamery along the Central Point Artisan Corridor. Wander through the “caves,” explore the packing room and visit the Cheese Shop. Here you can taste samples of all Rogue Creamery cheeses, enjoy a mouth-watering solar-powered Grilled Cheese sandwich, and wash it down with a selection of Rogue Ales & Root Beer or local wine. They’ve recently opened a dairy farm stand in Grant’s Pass too!
AN ORIGINAL PAIRING
At the heart of Rogue Creamery’s mission are “people dedicated to sustainability, service, and the art and tradition of creating the world’s finest handmade cheese.” At the center of that heart has always been the Ashland Independent Film Festival. In 2003, the Creamery hosted the very first Savor the Rogue® Opening Night Bash pairing award-winning cheeses with artisan food and drink from all around Southern Oregon. ONB continues to be one of AIFF’s most popular—and most fun—events!
Beginning in 2006, AIFF’s documentary audience award was renamed the Rogue Creamery Audience Award for Best Documentary and was awarded to Hand of God. Other winners have included American Outrage (AIFF08), The Welcome (AIFF11), Ethel (AIFF13), and The Case Against 8 (AIFF14). Filmmakers have also been known to receive a gigantic wheel of cheese with their award!