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  • Victoria McClurg is the owner of Barossa Cheese. (Supplied)
There are 150 wineries in the Barossa Valley - Victoria McClurg's would have been one more, but she did something different.
By
Small Business Secrets

Source:
SBS Small Business Secrets
4 Dec 2016 - 5:05 PM  UPDATED 19 Jan - 3:07 PM

Wine and cheese go together like... wine and cheese.

That's why Victoria McClurg knew she could bank on the latter, when it came to starting a Barossa-based business.

A trip to France was the catalyst: vino enthusiast Victoria was there to craft the perfect drop - but a stray cheese platter got in the way.

"And I just absolutely fell in love with it, from the moment I hit the soil, I knew that I wanted to make cheese and not wine anymore," she said.


"In France, the plethora of cheese styles was the thing that opened my eyes. I mean I've grown up knowing that traditional Australian cheddar, which was fabulous, but seeing France and looking at the market stalls and all the different varieties, it starts to get those creative juices going."

So began the Barossa Valley Cheese Company in 2003, which has since collected a slew of awards for its products.

Accolades, however, don't pay the bills, and even the best cheese won't sell unless people come to taste it.

Next, Victoria joined forces with other small producers, luring tourists south to a Barossa Valley wine and cheese trail; on the menu, the region's famous claret, and a few of her specialties.

Within 8 weeks of manufacturing, the Barossa Valley Cheese Company's products were distributed across the eastern seaboard of Australia.

"We've grown to almost one and a half million dollars in our turnover, which is fantastic, and the trajectory is just going up, so we're experiencing some great growth at the moment."

Victoria showed SBS through her factory in Angaston, where curds become cuisine.

"These are our Camemberts, those are our 200 gram sizes and then these are the 125 grams. So they've just been sitting in the brine, for a little bit and we're pulling them out to allow them to dry off, so it's another step in the process."

From bloomy rinds to washed rings, haloumi and everything in between, Victoria's team creates it all by hand.

So we're stirring this curd and what it does, it starts to help assist in the extraction of the whey from the curd, so it starts to draw out some more moisture."

The growth of Victoria's business can somewhat be defined by the amount of milk she uses: from 10 litres in the family home 13 years ago, to 600 litres, and now, 10,000.

It all comes from a farm just 10 minutes drive from her factory, ecause for Victoria it's important her products not only reflect the brand name, but that she supports other family businesses in the local area.

A tasting table provides the perfect exercise in enrichment, offering passers-by a chance to stop, sniff and taste cheeses in the heart of wine country.

"I wanted to provide an experience for people, another spot for them to come in to the Barossa, and another type of experience, because we have a lot of cellar doors in the Barossa Valley, and I just wanted to emulate that in a cheese sense."

A boon undoubtedly for visitors, but Victoria says it's also an invaluable feedback loop and marketing strategy.

"Because if you have a cellar door, and you're manufacturing, you get to try and test things with the general population. And they'll give you immediate feedback. So you know whether they like it or not."

Tourists can also purchase picnic baskets of cheese and crackers, with maps for matching wine trails at 33 regional wineries.

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