David Johnson and Laurie Jensen grew up on neighbouring farms in the small Gippsland village of Neerim South. Both families have been dairy farmers for many generations and Laurie’s great grandfather, a Danish emigrant, often made cheese on his farm in east Gippsland, kindling his interest in cheese and inspiring him to complete a degree in dairy technology.
In 1982, Tarago River Cheese Company was founded when David’s parents formed a partnership with Laurie and his dad, building a small cheesery alongside the milking dairy on the Johnson’s Hillcrest farm. Tarago River Cheese Company is named after the river that winds its way around the gently sloping hills of this renowned dairy region. The farm, now grown to over 500 acres, is home to 400 Holstein-Friesian and Jersey-cross cows who are milked twice daily. The fresh milk, travelling only a dozen or so paces from dairy to the cheesery, is pasteurized and transformed into a range of handmade, Australian farmhouse cheeses.
Gippsland Brie is made in a special area of the cheesery designed for surface-ripened cheeses. Jersey-Friesian milk is enriched with cream before select cultures and non-animal rennet are added. The resulting curds are gently hooped, then matured at 14°C over the next 4 weeks in dedicated maturation rooms. Penicillin camemberti and candidum moulds give this Australian brie a pristine, velvety white rind. The paste is soft and buttery, becoming creamier with age.