Good to Goat…

July 19, 2010 / Food & Wine
Anghiari, Tuscany

valledimezzo1What happens when a young man from the flatlands of central Michigan finds a spectacularly picturesque goat farm high in the hills of the Val Tiberina in eastern Tuscany?

Magic!

Brent has lived in Italy for 20 years, and eight years ago he fell in love with and then purchased a goat cheese farm, named Valle di Mezzo (Middle Valley), that had fallen on hard times. Brent then set about increasing both the size of the herd and the variety and quality of cheeses. Now the cheeses range from the freshest — ricotta and soft cheeses days old — to fine, mature wheels and rounds (some aged more than a year). Some of the cheese types are traditional, while others Brent has developed himself, such as those wrapped with herbs from Valle di Mezzo) or in plant leaves (walnut, chestnut or grape from the farm, or tobacco leaves from the nearby valley).

valledimezzo2Brent, who is ebullient in both Italian and English, welcomes many visitors at the farm – ranging from residents of nearby Anghiari and Sansepolcro to school groups, restaurant owners and travelers — all of whom enjoy meeting the goats and purchasing the cheese where it is made.  For their part, the goats seem to enjoy the attention.

The current herd is 88 goats, all but three of which are female that produce milk for Brent’s fabulous cheeses after the babies are weaned. Baby goats are born from about March through May. This year there were 146 kids, 80 female and 66 male. Most goat births are twins, but healthy living at Valle di Mezzo this year brought seven sets of triplets!

valledimezzo3The female goats (and the three males) are fortunate to have clear, fresh air and the wonderful views from the farm. When Brent ends up with too many goats, the extra female kids most often go to other goat farms.

And what happens to the male kids?  Don’t ask! They don’t belong on a goat cheese farm!

Further pictures and information about the farm, the goats and the cheeses can be found at www.valledimezzo.com.

 


– Contributed by Pam and Doug Walter, ItalianNotebook readers and part-time residents of Tuscany. Many thanks!!

11 Responses to “Good to Goat…”

  1. Mary E.Pastor

    LOVED IT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    HOW ABOUT THE SHEEP FARMERS FROM AROUND GRECI FOGA >> INCLUDE THOSE HOUSE THEY STAYED IT > SOOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL ALL OF IT..
    THANKS SO MUCH ENJOY EVERY DAY THAT GOES> KEEP UP THE GREAT JOB DEEPEY APPRECIATED!!!!

    Reply
  2. Kathleen Migliarese Avalone

    I’d like to know what happens to the male kids. Are they “culled,”a euphamism for killed? I love the fact that the animals are not in a factory farm like we have in the US but killing an animal because of his gender is still wrong.

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  3. Hi Mary, Hi Carol,
    Come on over, visit the goats…leave with some cheese!
    Brent (the guy taking care of the goats and making the cheese)

    Reply
  4. I’ve spent many a day with Brent and the Goats! What beautiful animals… and such incredible cheeses. Brent is an inventive master cheese maker and treats his beloved animals with kindness. He shares many stories that will make you cry… and laugh. Valle di Mezzo is beautiful but you should see his other farm, Priello. Totally beautiful and the view is stunning. Both available for rentals. I try to visit every year I love it so.

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  5. Denise Blackman

    last week I made mozzarella for the first time-delicious! Next week it’s goat cheese but trying to figure out how to hold it at the right temp in my home kitchen! Brent would LOVE to visit your farm someday!

    Reply
  6. Gian Banchero

    Brent, you ESCAPED, you have The Good Life!!! Congratulations!!!

    Reply
  7. Thanks everybody! Please do come visit. Tuscany is fantastic any season, cheese is great in any season. Right now we are enjoying the scenery with 100’s of fields of sunflowers all blooming at once. Goats are out in the woods as we speak with my guest/helpers and I am spending way too many hours wrapping cheese in chestnut leaves.

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  8. Oh! To have some of that fresh goat cheese for our traditional Friday night pizza! You simply must go by and visit Brent. His aged goat cheeses are masterpieces. If he were making this cheese here in the USA he would be the most award winning goat cheese maker in the world. And that’s the truth. The one aged and wrapped in tobacco leaves is exceptional. Nothing like I thought it would be. Keep up the goat (good) work, Brent. See you next year for sure. Ciao.

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  9. Dear Brent, I will be in Tuscany near Pieve Santo Stefano in early May this year. My friend and fellow artist and I would love to come by to see your lovely farm! Is that possible?

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  10. Juli and Michael Slusky

    Hi Brent! We came to visit you with Tierney back in June 2010. Oh how we miss our tartufo goat cheese! We had a great time meeting all the goats and eating the yummy cheese. Coming to spend the day with you was a great memory of our Tuscan trip! Now we only wish you could ship your cheese to the states (Chicago)!

    Reply

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