Ancient Heritage Dairy

A father-and-son team produces award-winning cheeses in Portland’s first urban creamery


With all the international attention Portland, Oregon has garnered in recent years, it seems to be changing even more each year. That is to say, it’s becoming even more Portland-y. Southeast Portland is rapidly becoming populated with artisanal food industries like local honey producers, salt makers, coffee roasters, breweries and distilleries. The latest to join the movement is Ancient Heritage Dairy. Through the dairy’s tall glass windows casual passers-by and cheese fanatics alike can watch the father-and-son team Paul and Hank Obringer add cultures, cut curds, press and age their award-winning sheep’s- and cow’s-milk cheeses.


As the story goes, Paul’s wife, Kathy Obringer, developed the cheese recipes. Her son, Hank, had been enlisted as her cheese-making assistant since his early teens, and when she passed away in 2010, Hank partnered with his father to continue producing and refining her recipes. The cheeses have lovely names such as Valentine, Adelle and Willow Creek, after the cows, sheep and places surrounding the Obringer’s original farm in Scio, Oregon.


The quality of the Obringers’ cheese drew the attention of another father-and-son team, the restaurateur and entrepreneur Tony Arnerich and his son Nick, who first came across the cheese while working at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa Valley. The Arnerichs and Obringers are currently working on the build-out of the space that currently houses Ancient Heritage Dairy’s operation and cheese caves. By May of 2015, the building will also host Renata, an Italian eatery started by Nick Arnerich and his wife, as well as a retail shop where diners and customers can purchase both specialty goods and Ancient Heritage Dairy’s cheese.

For more information about the present operation and what’s to come, or to purchase cheese, visit Ancient Heritage Dairy online.

Close-up images courtesy of Ancient Heritage Dairy, second set by Adrienne So