People are funny. And what I mean by that is that they are sometimes stupid.
There isn't much going out here in the Inland Empire, the hot inland regions of southern California. I am lucky in that I'm close to a wine growing area, the Temecula Valley. So there are wineries and pastoral hills (kind of brown and crispy this time of year) to look at and drive through. But before you got to Temecula and to its now many wineries, you come to the tiny old western hamlet of Winchester, with its rolling hills, ranches, mobile homes and dairies. And nestled off of Winchester Road is the Winchester Cheese Company. Oh it's nothing to look at. Due to permit issues, they make and store their cheese in old refrigerated railroad cars. But what cheese! We got an informal tour at one time, got to look at the vats where the milk is poured and stirred, blended with enzymes to make the curds. We've seen the drying rooms where shelf after shelf was stacked with wheels of this wonderful fresh gouda. One, two, three, and then many years old, until it was sharp and hard. And wonderful. Not cheap, either.
But those days are soon to end. Jules Wesselink, the owner and operator of the company, who was born and raised in Haarlem, Holland and operated his own dairies in California since the 1950's, has died. Apparently, his children weren't as interested in this venerable business as he was. As I've heard it, money was taken out of the business but never put back in. Not enough to get more milk needed to make more cheese. As of this writing, the employees report that there is now only two weeks left of inventory. The kids think that the land itself is more valuable. Uh...maybe in 2007 when the bubble was expanding. But it has since burst and many a new tract home development has gone four legs up. I sure wouldn't count on land as an investment right now, especially out here, which is still pretty much the middle of nowhere.
So hats off to Jules Wesselink for preserving the past and making a fine product worthy of his name. And a big raspberry cheer to his children for destroying a man's legacy. It's a very sad tale indeed.