Ashgrove's new dairy door, a mecca for cheese lovers

Family farm: Ashgrove's Paul and Richard Bennett with Anne Bennett. Pictures: Supplied
Family farm: Ashgrove's Paul and Richard Bennett with Anne Bennett. Pictures: Supplied

A visit to Ashgrove is a must for locals and visitors cruising down the Bass Highway through Elizabeth Town.

A firm favourite since they opened their doors in 1993, the dairy door had shut up shop for most of 2020 as major renovations took place.

The original cafe and visitor centre were demolished to make way for a $2 million redevelopment into a bigger and better cafe, factory, retail area and outdoor area that link Ashgrove's dairy products direct to the farm.

Now, the new dairy door has opened treating visitors to a fully immersive experience.

"We first opened the visitor centre, or the dairy door, in 1993, and while we've done minor changes this is the first major redevelopment we've done," Ashgrove Cheese communications manager Anne Bennett said.

"This project has been four years in the works and we are incredibly proud to have brought it to fruition.

"COVID never stopped our plans, but it worked in well with the timing of the build."

Ms Bennett said the new spaces would encourage an interactive paddock-to-plate experience, not only for tourists but also for Tasmanians.

"We have completely opened up the area with large windows into the factory so visitors can see first-hand the production and ageing processes," she said.

"There are interpretation panels dotted around so visitors can learn about who we are, our family history and connection to the land, we want our story as a Tasmanian farming family to be embedded into the experience."

"We are a family business with a vertical integration operation; we milk the cows, bottle the milk and send it to the supermarkets," she said.

A new menu has also been created to celebrate local produce, with Ashgrove's Cheese and heritage sitting front and centre.

"We wanted to create a true pasture to plate experience that can be measured in meters," Ms Bennett said.

"From toasties to share plates, cheese fondue and nachos there is something for every kind of cheese lover on the new menu.

"And you can wash it all down with Tasmanian family-owned beer, cider and wine.

"We partnered with local businesses to create crackers and condiments to compliment the cheese, sourced ham from Deloraine and feature poppy seed in our house-made gelato."

The menu also has a nod to the Bennett family heritage as vegetable producers with pea guacamole and a heavy focus on plant-based paired with cheese as the protein.

While the popular cheese tasting has had to take a back seat due to COVID restrictions Ms Bennett said there were events and experiences planned for the coming months, including a cheese high tea.

The new retail area features the full range of Ashgrove cheese, milk, cream and butter available for purchase, along with a range of merchandise and a golden cow.

The dairy door will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 7 am to 5.30 pm.

For more information on upcoming events and announcements see facebook.com/ashgrovecheese.

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