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Haute Goat Creamery settling in at White Oak factory and store

By Ken Hedler
Oct. 22, 2016 at 11:41 p.m.

Jeff Vanderbilt scoops up curd to be put into molds while making a blue cheese, on Thursday October 20, 2016, at Haute Goat Creamery in White Oak. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

WHITE OAK — Husband and wife Jeff and Laura Vanderbilt are settling in to Haute Goat Creamery's new digs in White Oak, where they have been producing cheese since August and are set to open their store to the public Wednesday.

The business moved from a 650-square-foot building at 415 N. High St. in Longview to one spanning 3,900 square feet at the Savage Village strip center at 1908 E. U.S. 80, Suite 2, because they needed more space, Laura Vanderbilt said.

The business also was lured to White Oak with a grant of $50,000 from the White Oak Economic Development Corp. It provided the funds to help Haute Goat buy equipment, said Charlie Smith, White Oak's city coordinator.

"They will be adding some employment opportunities here, and it will boost our sales tax to a certain extent," he said.

The Vanderbilts invested about $7,000 of the grant money for a pump, Laura Vanderbilt said, and has more plans ahead.

"We have not finished spending it yet," she said.

The key to its expansion was finding more goat milk, so Haute Goat Creamery now does business with a second farm that supplies milking goats, she said. Jerri Dee Farms in Simms has 200 goats with a mix of breeds, and 92 are produce milk, owner Jerri Dee Galyon said.

"It's good to have two sources (for goat milk) in case something happens to the herd," Vanderbilt said.

The early days

A former stay-at-home mom who launched the creamery in March 2011 after having a pleasant visit to a goat dairy, she said Haute Goat "could barely" produce 15 gallons of cheese a week at first.

"I was collecting from three small dairies," Vanderbilt said. "There just were not enough goats."

The business started out selling cheeses to the Longview and other farmers markets, and since has expanded to supply stores in Longview, Tyler, Shreveport and as far away as Dallas. Because they are shorthanded, Haute Goat no longer sells at the Longview and Rose City farmers markets, focusing instead during the summer at Shreveport farmers markets and wine festivals.

Haute Goat Creamery, which also sells cheese on the premises, lost three weeks of production with the move, but now is producing 250 gallons of cheese a week — up from from 100 in Longview.

"We are hoping to go to 500 gallons," she said. "We need to go after more business."

Making cheese

Vanderbilt's husband, a retired chemist, was working in the production room Thursday preparing molds for bleu cheese. He pasteurized the goat milk in the morning and placed the curd in molds that each hold 10 pounds. Holes in the mold allowed whey to drain overnight.

"We salt them, and that continues to release more whey and it also staves off uninvited bacteria," Laura Vanderbilt said. She added that a hog farmer expressed interest in buying the whey to feed his animals.

Bleu cheese molds are kept in a cooler at about 50 degrees with high humidity for three months to age, Vanderbilt said. Cheeses vary in the aging requirements, with three days for spreads, two weeks for Amalthea and two months for feta.

A board at the front of the creamery displays the variety of cheeses, cheese spreads and seasonal flavors, as well as plain yogurt for sale each day.

The store will be open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. The Vanderbilts also plan an open house from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

For information, visit hautegoatcreamery.com.

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