Solar Powered Goat Cheese on the North Fork

By Jen Murphy Posted September 12, 2007

It was a popular weekend to be on Long Island’s North Fork. While F&W’s Kate Krader was having an amazing breakfast at Shinn Estate Farmhouse, I was leading a pack of 15 friends on a tasting tour of some of the North Fork’s best vineyards. F&W’s Executive Wine Editor, Lettie Teague, who was recently out reporting and tasting Long Island wines for her November Wine Matters column, recommended some of her favorite tasting rooms. You’ll have to wait for the November issue to read Lettie’s verdict on the state of Long Island’s wine. All I’ll say is that the Chenin Blanc from Paumanok was excellent—bright, clean, zesty—and the Reserve Chardonnay from Lieb Cellars was creamy, complex and drinking beautifully.

Along our tasting route we stopped by Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic. My friend Jay is addicted to good cheese, and sampling Catapano’s superfresh goat cheeses—particularly the award-winning chèvre—was the highlight of his trip. While my friends tasted, I spoke with owner Karen Catapano about what’s new at her four-year-old goat farm. Her husband, Michael, is currently experimenting with an Italian-style aged cheese along the lines of Provolone. It will be put away this fall, then aged six months, and will be ready for next spring. Karen has been doing her own experimenting: She creates all of the goat’s-milk-based skin-care products sold at the farm and has added silk fiber amino acids to goat’s milk and shea butter to create a soap called the Luxury Bar. The finished product is still curing but should be available at the farm soon.

Michael and Karen’s innovations go beyond cheese and skin care. Last week they finished installing Sun Stream solar panels on the farm to make it more energy efficient and eco-friendly. “We put in these beautiful flat panels that lay flush on the roof, so they look pretty and they supply one-third of our electric,” says Karen. Hoping to educate and inspire others to follow their eco-lead, the duo is hosting a wine-and-cheese reception at the farm on October 2 from 3 to 6 p.m. to spread the word about solar power. People from Sun Stream will be speaking about how the solar energy works, and a financial adviser will also be on hand to talk about the tax benefits and financial incentives for businesses that opt for solar power.

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