Devotion to Dairy
Ballerino Creamery’s owner and head cheesemaker Louella Hill has long loved good food. Born in a small mining town on the U.S. / Mexican border, she grew up on raw milk queso fresco from “across the line”. Later, in college, she decided to abandon the books and made her way to a sheep farm in Tuscany. There she first witnessed the transformation of fresh milk into fragrant wheels. It was a point of no return.
Since then, Louella has put in the hours, working on dairy farms and in cheese factories in the U.S. and abroad. She has taught hundreds of cheesemaking classes, co-founded what was once Rhode Island’s only creamery and published a book on home cheesemaking (Kitchen Creamery, Chronicle Books). Fate and a job offer at the University of Virginia brought Louella and her partner Alan to the Shenandoah. They settled in Staunton with hopes they’d have easier access to good milk.
After arriving, Louella searched high and low for her next chapter. It took years of patience before a friend led to another friend who brought Louella into the “Cottage Cheese Room”. This room, located within a large and mysterious building in downtown Staunton, was a historical creamery of the Valley (known as Augusta Dairies). Though the building had not been used for milk processing for half a century, that was to change. Louella had been looking for a place to make cheese and this room would become her future. To add frosting to the cake, the stream running alongside the building is called Buttermilk Creek.
A few months of renovation and successful connections with local dairies has brought Ballerino Creamery to where we are now: freshly open for business. We sell cheeses at two Valley farmers’ markets (Staunton and Lexington) from May through October and year-round through our Cheese Club.
Community Through Food
We love to hear from our customers. Be in touch if you have a cheese you’d like us to try, questions about our Cheese Club or would like information on wholesale purchasing. As a small family business, we hope to stay connected not only to our products but especially to the community we serve. We are delighted to be able to craft a meaningful, nutrient-rich food and hope that when you taste our cheeses, you’ll be delighted, too.