About Our Tarentaise

Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise is an aged, raw milk, farmstead organic cheese which is handmade by John and Janine Putnam on their family farm in North Pomfret, Vermont from the certified organic milk of their grass fed Jersey cows.

Tarentaise is unique to Pomfret, Vermont - its soil, geography climate and flora combine to give Tarentaise its characteristic smooth, subtle nut flavor and complex finish. Following the traditions of the Savoie region of the French Alps, Tarentaise is made in a copper vat, which is essential to the development of the proper flavor. The Putnams also make their own traditional rennet using the whey from the previous cheesemaking. Much as bakers use sourdough starter, this difficult process lends a complexity of flavor to the cheese which cannot otherwise be created.

The curds used to make Tarentaise are taken by hand from the vat in a large cheese cloth to the fore press. The cheeses are then turned up to five times in molds imported from France which create the distinctive concave sides which Tarentaise shares with Beaufort and Abondance, two fine cheeses of the Savoie. The aging room, where the cheeses reside for at least five months, is made mostly of stone and contains only Tarentaise. During the aging process, the cheeses are turned and scrubbed a minimum of twice each week to develop its natural rind and warm butterscotch color.

From its humble beginnings as organic raw milk, to its natural aging and rind development, no preservatives, synthetic flavors or additives are added to Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise. No herbs hide its flavor; no waxes or plastics simplify the aging process. From the hay that feeds the cows, to the end result, everything is done on the farm by the Putnam family.

As stated by Giles Schnierle, owner of the great American Cheese Collection, “There isn’t anything like it in this country....The layers keep opening-caramel tones, silky tongue feel, a balanced finish. It has a gracefulness in its flavor profile.” (Boston Globe, July 9, 2003)

National Awards:

  • 1st American Cheese Society 2004; 2006
  • 2nd American Cheese Society 2003; 2007, 2009, 2010
  • 3rd American Cheese Society 2008, 2011, 2012
  • 3rd United States Championship Cheese Contest 2003
  • Gold, World Jersey Cheese Awards, Jersey, U.K. 2012

National Press:

  • New York Times 2/26/2003
  • New York Times 6/23/2004
  • New York Times 11/11/2006
  • Saveur, April 2005
  • Food Arts, June 2005
  • Business Week Online, October 2005
  • ABC News, March 2006
  • National Public Radio, September 2006
  • Cheese Reporter, January 12, 2007
  • Robb Report, 2007
  • Wine Spectator, 2008
  • Cheese Connoisseur, 2009
  • Culture, 2009
  • Martha Stewart Living 2009

Regional Press:

  • Rutland Herald 2/8/04
  • Vermont Standard 8/22/02
  • Boston Magazine October 2005
  • Burlington Free Press 5/30/06
  • Middlebury Alumni Magazine 2006
  • Vermont Law School Alumni Magazine 2004
  • American Institute of Wine & Food 2005
  • Vermont Public Radio 2007
  • Woodstock Magazine 2007
  • Vermont Public Television 2009
  • Philadelphia Inquirer 2012
  • Newsweek 2009
  • Wall Street Journal, July 2012

Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise cheese is available at fine food stores and can be ordered from the farm directly at www.ThistleHillFarm.com