Who We Are
Blue Ridge Dairy Co. was started in June of 1999 on a 10 acre farm in Lovettsville, VA by Paul Stephan. Paul is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Florida International University's School of Hospitality Management. After college Paul began what he thought would be a long career in restaurant management, but after a few years realized his passion career would not be in cooking or managing restaurants. During a visit to Italy in early 1998, Paul realized that his favorite cheese, fresh mozzarella, was not being made in the U.S. to anywhere near the quality as it was in Italy. Upon his return, he and wife Alison promptly purchased the 10 acre farm in Lovettsville with no farming experience whatsoever! The cow, Betty, came next. With only one cow, Paul would have to milk a full week before having one chance at making cheese. The daily routine was to milk Betty in the morning, drive to a Leesburg restaurant to wait tables for lunch, then drive back to the farm to milk, and then drive all the way back to Leesburg for the dinner shift! By March of 2000, he finally had a sellable product, and began selling at The 32nd Street Farmers Market in Baltimore and The Dupont Circle Freshfarm Market in Washington, DC. It's been nothing but growth since then.
Betty is long gone, as is the farm in Lovettsville. Blue Ridge Dairy Co. is now strictly a cheese, yogurt, and butter maker in Sterling, VA. We're a small artisanal producer of handcrafted fresh and applewood smoked mozzarella, burrata, fresh ricotta, aged feta, cream cheese, whole and lowfat yogurt, and lowfat greek-style yogurt in various flavors. The dairy processes over 1,000 gallons of fresh Virginia Jersey breed cow's milk a week during peak Summer production.
We use only one type of milk. That which comes from Jersey cow's. The Jersey breed gives milk with the highest butterfat and protein levels of all dairy cattle breeds. This helps create the base of the perfect fior di latte mozzarella. Our milk also only comes from one source, a family farm in Winchester, VA. It takes close to 3 hours of driving to procure this incredible milk every other day, but it is well worth the trip! The cow's are housed in a clean, caring environment, and rBST is never used.
Our process is authentic to the core. We make our fior di latte ( flower of the milk ) mozzarella in the very same manner as is done in Italy. It is known as lactic fermentation. The method utilizes a proprietary blend of live bacterial cultures to do the acidifying and flavor production in the milk and curd. This is a much more intense method of production, but one that creates fresh mozzarella with perfect flavor and texture! The fresh, raw milk is pasteurized at 145 degrees for 30 minutes then cooled to inoculation temperature for the culturing. After around 45 minutes vegetarian rennet is added. When the curd has been formed to the exact degree of coagulation, it is cut, rested, then stirred. The curd is then separated from the whey, and blocks of curd begin to form. After about three hours, the curd blocks are raised on to a maturing table for the final 30-45 minutes before stretching and molding. When the curd has reached the exact ph, and only then, does the curd get processed in very hot salted water to be stretched and molded in fresh mozzarella.