Gonzalez joins Grafton Village as head cheesemaker

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GRAFTON — Ruth Anne Flore, CEO of Grafton Village Cheese, announced that Mariano Gonzalez is joining Grafton Village Cheese Company, a subsidiary of The Windham Foundation, effective Feb. 1. As head cheesemaker, Gonzalez will supervise all aspects of cheesemaking at Grafton Village Cheese, including production, development, aging, and procurement.

Gonzalez is an award-winning cheesemaker and cheddar cheese specialist who has been developing his skills for over 30 years. As a young child in his native Paraguay, he remembers helping his uncle make Queso Paraguay, a traditional fresh cheese of that country. In 1987, Gonzalez married his wife Meg and moved to her home in Shelburne, where he learned to make traditional cheddar cheese by hand at Shelburne Farms. During his tenure at Shelburne Farms, the cheese won Best Cheddar and Best in Show at the American Cheese Society. It was also during this time that Gonzalez began developing a traditional clothbound English style cheddar, his dream cheese.

In 2001, he moved to California's Central Valley to become head cheesemaker at Fiscalini Cheese Company. With Fiscalini, Gonzalez developed the company's bandage-wrapped cheddar, which won Best Cheddar at the prestigious World Cheese Awards in England in 2007, 2011 and 2014. Other signature award-winning cheeses developed under his guidance include San Joaquin Gold, a semi-hard aged cow's milk cheese, and Lionza, an alpine-style cheese that most recently won the coveted sofi Award from the Specialty Food Association in New York and Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards.

Gonzalez is a frequent participant in educational panels and industry workshops and is a member of the American Cheese Society and California Artisan Cheese Guild. He has also worked for USAID as part of their Farmer to Farmer program, helping develop the cheese industry in Central and South America.

When not making cheese, Mariano enjoys spending time with his wife, two adult daughters and their three dogs. They will reside in Grafton.

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