Where else can you try sheep and goat's milk cheese?
Having been introduced to Leaning Oak cheeses before, I knew I was in for a treat. Leaning Oak Dairy is the only place in NSW that you'll find sheep and goat cheese. Visiting this place to see where the magic occurs, I was very warmly welcomed by Corinne, front of house, surrounded by the baby lambs and goats.
With the first few days of spring, the farm has had a baby boom and meeting day old Caramel the sheep was something special. The boys were in sheer delight patting and hugging the baby goats and sheep. These animals are also quite inquisitive and will happily chew your shoelaces, scarf and bag or your child's hair who are at the perfect height for a peckish goat. Watch out for Lenny, a persistent mischievous little goat, who somehow reminded me very much of my toddler.
Gloria is the resident cheesemaker here and her husband Alan Cox, the winemaker. Originally the farm was a winery selling Burnbrae Wines but winemaking came to a standstill as Alan's thoughts of what goes well with red wine and stumbled across the answer of cheese. They began their dairy farm after visiting Europe and seeing how the smaller farms worked. Due to the size of their land not being able to cater for cows, they chose goats and sheep. They have several varieties of goat including white saanens and anglo nubans.
As the kids were happily ensconced with morning tea, it was our turn to go inside to a spacious tasting room, with gorgeous artwork on display, comfy lounges and dining table to try some of the cheeses which are all made using a vegetarian rennet. As well as try the last of the white wines on offer. They have a range of fresh cheeses including the following:
Leaning Oak Dairy also runs an exchange program with students undertaking an agricultural degree from France. We were learning along with the French travellers how the farm worked and watched the feeding frenzy of the baby goats and sheep. The kids also attempted to feed the babies but preferred to run around the pond instead. Also on offer is cheese making classes where you can even milk a goat or perhaps let the automated milking take care of that.
With cheeses so good that people come back from as far as Katoomba and willingly buy the tester as it's the last of the bunch, that's what I call dedication. Their cheeses keep well and you're able to freeze these for 3 months or 3 weeks in the fridge once you've opened the lids.
I found that their Sheep Milk cheese is very creamy with subtle flavours, whilst the Goat Milk Cheese has strong tangy flavours, and is also a lower fat alternative. The problem will be which ones to buy and take with you on the journey, as I did want to take one of everything. They even make their own sheep's milk haloumi. Yum!
Just 5 kms from Mudgee CBD a visit to Leaning Oak is a must do on your trip to Mudgee. Plugging the directions in the GPS in the directions will have you missing the turnoff completely so keep your eye's peeled for the sign. Drop by between 10 am and 4pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or you can book onto a farm & dairy tour by calling 0420 744 810 for times and prices.