By Mac Cerullo
---- — A new artisan cheese manufacturing facility is set to open on High Street this weekend, giving residents and local cheese lovers a chance to taste authentic Italian cheese made right in their backyard.
Upon opening, Wolf Meadow Farm will be a sustainable facility dedicated to making Italian cheeses in the old-world tradition. All of the cheese will be made from scratch on-site, and it will be derived from milk harvested fresh every morning at Artichoke Dairy in West Newbury.
Luca Mignogna, co-owner and cheesemaker at Wolf Meadow Farm, said the business’ proximity to the dairy allows them to produce some of the freshest mozzarella in New England, and his goal is ultimately to offer a locally produced product that stands up to the cheese made in Italy.
“That’s the goal: We can offer the same quality product that’s made in Italy but made in the United States,” Mignogna said. “So we brought our traditions, our passions and our love, and hopefully the town and Massachusetts will like it.”
Wolf Meadow Farm will be located at 91 High St., and in addition to mozzarella, it will also offer a line of artisan cheeses including scamorza, caciocavallo, primo sale and fresh Ricotta. The artisan cheeses will be made with the assistance of a stretcher machine, while the mozzarella will be made entirely by hand, Mignogna said.
“The method we use is a traditional method. We’ll do the mozzarella like it was done in Italy 50 years ago, same way, same style,” Mignogna said. “The technology just allows us to be faster and more consistent on the size of the cheese for commercial purposes.”
Mignogna and his business partner, Leonardo Tummolo, are both from Italy and have decades of experience crafting artisan cheeses. Mignogna in particular hails from a small town between Rome and Naples, where cheese is the local specialty.
“I was born and raised in Italy and I’ve mostly worked in the restaurant business, but the cheese has always been a part of my family,” Mignogna said. “It’s very nice and rural like Massachusetts with a lot of farms, and for multiple reasons, cheese has been our main food that we craft in the area.”
Mignogna came to the United States about 10 years ago, and shortly after arriving he was inspired to start his own business. He studied artisan cheesemaking in college, and eventually went back to Italy to speak to Tummolo about opening Wolf Meadow Farm.
“I’m really happy so far, because I see that the idea we’re trying to show people, which is the traditional way to make cheese, it looks like the town is getting it,” Tummolo said in Italian. “I’m excited and scared because it’s something new, but it’s something new with old roots that we have from Italy.”
Besides making the cheese on-site, Wolf Meadow Farm will also include a small retail shop where cheese can be purchased and sampled, though most of the retail focus will be on farmers markets initially. Customers will also be able to see the cheesemaking process in action through a window behind the counter, and cheesemaking classes and tastings will be offered as well, Mignogna said.
“We want to bring the schools in, we’re really trying to push the educational idea behind the cheesemaking,” Mignogna said. “Amesbury is also becoming a gourmet corner of the North Shore, and hopefully I can give my contribution to the town.”
Wolf Meadow Farm’s grand opening will be held on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to the public. The event will feature cheese tasting, live music and an informal meet and greet with Mignogna.