I’ve been known to go out of my way to find artisan
cheesemakers before – but usually I have the address when I set out. When I visited Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese for
the first time, however, I didn’t have that luxury. All I had was the desire to
see where they make the fabulous cheeses I’ve enjoyed at different gourmet
events – and some highway signs to lead the way. Fortunately, the signs off Hwy
401 (at Exit 282, in case you’re wondering) will take you right there.
The cheese shop gets its name from Gunns Hill – the highest
point in Norfolk County. They have been
in business as cheesemakers for under 10 years, but they’ve gained quite a
reputation and have won many Canadian
cheese awards. Cheesemaker/co-owners Shep Yesselstein learned to make cheese in
the Swiss Alps and the Swiss influence is pronounced in many of their cheeses.
The cows milk cheeses are produced using milk from
Ysselstein’s nearby family dairy farm, which was started by Shep’s grandfather.
In addition to cows milk cheeses, they also produce sheeps
milk cheese and water buffalo milk cheese.
They give group tours (which are especially popular with
school groups) that feature all the stages of cheese production. Contact them
to arrange a tour.
Their cheese is available at about 300 outlets throughout
Ontario, and they ship. But, if you visit the store, you’ll get a chance to see
what goes into making high quality artisanal cheese – and, of course, you can
take some home!