Almost 10 years ago, Wendy Mitchell bought a farm in Paonia and 50 dairy goats. The idea was to run a dairy and creamery that treated the animals (the goats are pastured, grass-fed, and free of antibiotics) and its employees (who are paid above minimum wage and receive a health care stipend) humanely. Avalanche Cheese Company quickly made its mark, winning prestigious awards from the American Cheese Society Competition and the Good Food Awards and drawing the attention of Whole Foods Market and high-end venues such as the St. Regis Aspen Resort. In 2014, Mitchell added artisanal meat products to her offerings.
Sadly, a decade later, Mitchell is shuttering Avalanche Cheese Company. The last milking is planned for Saturday (the goats are finding a new home in Wisconsin), and the cheeses will be available at Whole Foods, the Truffle Cheese Shop, and Cured in Boulder until the inventory runs out. (Mitchell expects many of them to sell out by January, but the cheddars, including the hugely popular hand-bandaged goat cheddar, which ages for a year, will still be available through next summer. Avalanche made its last batch a couple of months ago.)
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