Rogue Creamery - Vino Pair Cheesemaker Index
About Rogue Creamery
The business was inherited by Tom's wife, Zolita, and his four children: Ignazio, Carmela, Moris, and Zolita. The family was committed to preserving Vella's legacy and lifetime of work. His successor, Ignazio (Ig), soon took over Rogue Creamery and Rogue Gold Creamery in Grants Pass. His goal was to return to the glory days of Rogue Creamery. As CEO of both Rogue Creamery and Vella Cheese Company, Inc., in Sonoma, Ig began preaching the value of artisan products. He was met with skepticism and derision because artisan cheese was not considered the wave of the future. However, the American consumer began to grow tired of the blander, mass-produced cheeses and soon returned to handmade specialty cheeses. For his dedication to artisan cheese, and for his efforts over the years on behalf of the industry, Ig was dubbed "The Godfather of the artisan cheese industry."
Re-establishing Rogue Creamery's image was not easy, in spite of the investment, which included a newly remodeled blue cheese manufacturing plant. It was even named the best small blue cheese plant in the United States by the USDA, FDA and the State of Oregon. For three years Ig continued to split his time between Sonoma and Central Point. It wasn't until Sally, his wife of 50 years, pointed out the obvious: for Rogue Creamery to succeed he needed to move to Oregon. Ig realized the sagacity of her remark and he put the creamery on the market. He immediately had four offers on the business. However flattering the offers, the sobering truth was that the buyers planned to take ownership of the labels and close the plant. It was at that time that realtor Tom Bradley told Ig of two acquaintances, David Gremmels and Cary Bryant. More important to Ig than the purchase price was keeping the plant open and remaining a contributing partner in the community. On the front porch of the Creamery a handshake sealed the deal. Today, Rogue Creamery is thriving. Gremmels and Bryant have steadfastly held to the principles laid out by Tom and Ig Vella. In the first two years the Creamery won numerous trophies and awards, including World's Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London, a first for a U.S. creamery. Their long list of accomplishments also includes the coveted Best New Product Award as the World's first Smokey Blue at the National Association for the 2005 Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) Food Show in New York and Rogue River Blue took Best in Show at the 2009 American Cheese Society in Austin Texas. They have garnered more than 4 trophies and 30 medals and awards. Rogue Creamery cheeses can now be purchased around the world. As the business grows and thrives, one can wander around the caves, through the packing room and even into the storefront hearing echoes of the past and feeling a promising future for the best American artisan cheeses.