Grafton Village Cheese Company, a subsidiary of the Windham Foundation, is welcoming some fresh blood this winter with the announcement that Mariano Gonzalez is joining the Vermont-based, handmade cheese company as Head Cheesemaker. Effective February 1, Gonzalez will be responsible for supervising every aspect of cheesemaking, including production, development, aging, and procurement.
For over 30 years, the award-winning cheesemaker and cheddar cheese specialist has been developing and honing his skills. Gonzalez’s experience with cheesemaking goes all the way back to his childhood in Paraguay, where he recalls assisting his uncle in making a traditional, fresh Paraguayan cheese, Queso Paraguay.
Rewind back to 1987, the year Gonzalez married his wife, Meg, and moved to her home in Shelburne, Vermont. He began his cheese career in earnest, learning to make traditional cheddar cheese by hand at Shelburne Farms. Success was quick to follow, as the cheese won Best Cheddar and Best in Show at the American Cheese Society. At the same time, Gonzalez was able to develop his dream cheese—a traditional, clothbound English style cheddar.
Gonzalez moved to California’s Central Valley in 2001 to take up the mantle as Head Cheesemaker at Fiscalini Cheese Company. In this role, Gonzalez developed the company’s acclaimed, bandage-wrapped cheddar, which went on to win Best Cheddar at the World Cheese Awards in England in 2007, 2011, and 2014. Not a one-trick pony, Gonzalez developed several other award-winning cheeses, including San Joaquin Gold, a semi-hard aged cow’s milk cheese, and Lionza, an alpine-style cheese that recently won the sofi Award from the Specialty Food Association in New York and the Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards.
In addition to his work as a cheesemaker, Gonzalez frequently participates in industry workshops and educational panels, and is a member of the American Cheese Society and California Artisan Cheese Guild. Harkening back to his youth in Paraguay, he worked for USAID as part of their Farmer to Farmer program, which helps develop the cheese industry in Central and South America.
But you can’t make cheese all the time, and when he’s not, Gonzalez, who lives in Grafton, enjoys spending time with his wife, two adult daughters, and their three dogs.
Congratulations to Mariano and Grafton Village Cheese Company on this exciting new team up, Deli Market News can’t wait to see what the prestigious cheesemaker has in store.