Jennifer Rodrigue is the founder and owner of Belle Chevre Creamery which she runs with her partner David.
Jennifer started commercial production in October 2019.
Belle Chevre is French for Beautiful Goat and that’s certainly an apt name given she runs about 20 Anglo-Nubian goats which are indeed very pretty with their big eyes and long floppy ears. They graze on their hillside property a few minutes north of Waipū, munching on what takes their fancy, whether pasture, shrubs or even trees, and these include some grown just for them. Some people struggle with goat’s milk cheese, but Belle Chevre’s products do not have the intense ‘goaty’ tones that spark that response (of course, lots of us love both!).
They milk their princesses once a day – they have a break from April to August of course – and the milk is processed within three hours in their factory near their home. They all have bells and each have their own names. They subscribe to the principle of farming traditionally, not intensively. Jennifer and David favoured goats because they are so efficient at turning any vegetation into protein humans can eat, but also because, well, they are beautiful after all, and have strong personalities.
Their favourite season is kidding time, with goat kids around the fire in the house. They are easier on the environment than cows, tidy in the shed and requiring no effluent clean-up, and their droppings requiring no composting before being used in the garden. They are easily handled if they are used to it from birth, making milking a breeze. Many argue that goats’ milk cheese is much more friendly on the gut too. They make a range of styles including feta, a halloumi-style Zalloumi, and even chocolate-coated and raspberry-dusted chèvre bonbons, as well as a classic chevre log.
Jennifer is a self-taught cheesemaker and her dedication and innovation has led Belle Chevre to win many awards including Gold medals.