Jessica Little grew up in Thomasville, Georgia, helping her parents, Desiree and Al, manage their 350-acre dairy farm. Determined to spread her wings she left for a life in the city, earned a degree in Business Administration in Atlanta and took a corporate job. She also met her husband, Jeremy Little.
Jessica and Jeremy shared with me that their decision to leave Atlanta hit when they were stuck in one of the city’s infamous traffic jams. They returned to Thomasville to operate the family’s Sweet Grass Dairy and raise their four boys. Since 2002, the Littles have won over 30 awards for their artisan cheeses.
Named after the field grass the cows graze upon, Sweet Grass Dairy produces a selection of aged, soft-ripened and fresh cow’s milk cheeses. These cheeses have developed a loyal clientele among both chefs and consumers. The Sweet Grass Dairy cows are raised “barn free” and have their own following thanks to the creamery’s “cow cam,” which you can watch at www.sweetgrassdairy.com
Jeremy serves as Head Cheesemaker and is a chef by training. Jessica Little is both a certified cheese professional and certified sommelier and a member of the International Guilde de Fromagers. Together they develop the menu for Sweet Grass Dairy’s restaurant, which serves sandwiches, salads, and cheese plates. The thoughtfully curated beverage menu features a selection of beers, cocktails, and wines from around the world. The website has a full pairing guide and recipes for all Sweet Grass cheeses.
What we tasted:
Sweet Grass Dairy’s bestselling farmhouse cheese is made in a French (Pyrenees) Mountain Tomme style. Released between 60-90 days, it is naturally rinded with a semi-soft texture and subtle grassy flavors.
Wine pairing: Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris Beer: Pale Ale
Jessica Little told me making the right style of blue took some serious consideration. The cheesemaking team nailed it with Asher Blue, named after the Little’s second son. This is a mild raw milk blue with an earthy flavor and notes of cocoa on the finish,
Wine pairing: Riesling or Zinfandel Beer: Gosé
This is a double cream, soft-ripened cheese with an earthy, mushroomy character and smooth texture.
Wine pairing: Champagne or sparkling wine or Chardonnay. Beer: hard cider
Named after the owners’ third son, Griffin, this is a farm-style cheese with a crumbly texture and malty flavor derived from soaking the curds in a half barrel of Terminus Porter from Gate City Brewing. The cheese is aged a minimum of 120 days
Wine pairing: Northern Rhone Syrah or Rhone white blends Beer: Porter
Lil’ Moo Original
Similar to spreadable cream cheese but with lighter texture and tang Lil’ Moo is made with 100 percent whole milk. This is a versatile cheese for sandwiches and spreads. There is a garlic and chive version as well as plain.
Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon or Gewurztraminer Beer: Lager
Local customers asked for it,” and the Littles complied. Their version uses their Thomasville Tomme as a base with mayonnaise, piquillo pepper, and pimentón, delivering a touch of smoke and spice to this southern favorite.
Wine pairing: Gruner Veltliner or Cabernet Sauvignon Beer: IPA