Just outside Robertson and down the winding Jamberoo Mountain Road is Pecora Dairy, a rainforest-fringed parcel of land that owners Michael and Cressida McNamara have developed into a native oasis for their sheep. “It’s a great place for the East Friesian dairy sheep we’re milking here,” explains Cressida. “The micro-climate, the plants, the birds and the animals are all essential to getting the very best milk we can to produce our cheeses.”
Hands-on in all aspects of production, Michael and Cressida place great emphasis on how the natural environment is reflected in their products. “The sheep are browsers; we’ve got lots of tree ferns, undergrowth and rainforest, they’ll nibble on bracken and take leaves off native shrubs,” Michael explains. “They’re not only getting the vitamins and minerals they need, but the herbs and native foliage contributes to the unique milk they’re producing. We want these beautiful characteristics to come through in the cheeses.”
Pecora Diary also works harmoniously with the seasons, with three flagship cheeses that exemplify the differing characteristics of their sheep’s milk throughout the year. As Cressida explains, “it’s our story to let people know how the season is expressing itself through the milk. Our bloomy cheese lends itself to spring milk, when its incredibly sweet. The blue lends itself to the end of the season, when the milk solids are high and the cheese becomes quite creamy and earthy. The Mezza is in the European mountain cheese family. It’s aged for 3-9 months and it’s a bit softer; grassy, nutty and mellow.”
Pecora dairy cheeses are sold at farmer’s markets, directly to restaurants and through boutique retailers. Keeping a personal connection to their customers is important to Michael and Cressida, who are constantly challenging themselves to innovate with these unique Southern Highland products.