Earlier this month, Catapano Dairy Farm took home third place in a national cheese competition hosted by the American Dairy Goat Association.
The blind contest was a first for owners Erin Argo Burke and Connor Burke, who purchased the goat farm from The Catapano family in November 2020.
The couple entered the farm’s fresh chèvre – a soft goat cheese and legacy of the Catapanos. Throughout their time on the farm, the Catapanos earned several awards for their goat cheeses, including first place at the American Cheese Society’s national competition in 2005.
New to the industry, Connor Burke learned how to make chèvre from his predecessors. He and his wife entered this first competition using the Catapanos’ nationally acclaimed cheese recipe. Their win, according to Erin Argo Burke, is a testament to her husband’s mastering of the original recipe.
“It’s a fantastic cheese,” she said. “We’re incredibly happy that the Catapanos were so kind to us to let us keep their award-winning recipe.”
The Burkes sell several flavors of the creamy goat cheese at their farm including cranberry, garlic and herb, mango habanero, sweet fire pepper, wildflower honey and rotating seasonal flavors. The cheese is about as local and fresh as it gets: every aspect of the cheese making process is performed on-site.
“It’s unique here. At a smaller farm like this, you can take the milk almost immediately and start using it to cook with — there’s no waiting period or transportation of milk,” said Connor Burke. The health of the goats, he explained, also plays a huge role in the taste of the cheese.
The farm’s goats are milked twice a day, leaving them plenty of time to roam and play across ten acres of land. Their diets are supplemented with formulated grain and fermented hay, which provides a source of probiotics and increases milk production.
“We’re keeping the goats happy and healthy — it’s what allows them to produce a really rich, good milk,” Connor Burke said.
Community members are welcomed to visit the farm and learn more about its cheese production. On weekends, the Burkes milk their goats around 4 p.m., offering viewing sessions to the public. There’s also a window in the cheese kitchen so visitors can watch the farm’s cheeses get made firsthand.
“We invite people to come and if they want to try some, we’re always willing to cut a piece up and let people try it before buying,” said Erin Argo Burke. “We’re incredibly grateful that people are loving the cheese.”