Making Gourmet Cheese

SkillsOne catches up with a couple who have turned their passion for life on the land into a lucrative and award-winning gourmet business.

Neil and Janette Watson decided to follow their dream of owning a farm in the country and opened a goat farm in 1995.

Neil then used the knowledge he learned through a rural science degree to teach himself how to make cheese and dairy products from the goats’ milk. They now have a lucrative gourmet business.

About Jannei Goat Dairy:

Jannei Goat Dairy is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Neil and Janette Watson. They moved to the area in 1991 and in 1995 they built the milking/cheese-making facilities on their property as well as their boutique cheese-selling facility.

Their farm follows a schedule based on the seasons: The majority of cheeses are produced in summer when milk production is at its peak (milk production goes into decline in Autumn and Winter as the goats go into season).

They won a Champion Award at the prestigious Grand Diary Awards last year and numerous other awards at agricultural shows around the country.

Their products include fresh curd in tubs, fresh chevre logs, aged cheddar, aged chevre, natural yoghurt and ricotta. Their prime retailer is the Simon Johnson chain of gourmet delis.

When Neil actually began making the cheese he consulted with Simon to discuss what types of cheese/consistency etc would be most popular with consumers and chefs.

About the Watsons:

Neil has always wanted to be a farmer and worked on a dairy as a child with his family. They also went to rural college to study farming and agriculture and got a rural science degree. Even though he’s never learned how to make cheese, he used the knowledge he gained through his rural science degree to teach himself the art of turning goat’s milk into gourmet cheese.

Janette originally was a graphic designer working for advertising agencies in Sydney. She’s still involved in the design elements for the brand. She’s become accustomed to rural life now, and enjoys still being creative in any way she can, often helping Neil with his gardens.

VJ Bradley Conomy