Columbus, and well most of Ohio, is sometimes called cowtown, but that can actually be a very good thing when it’s referring to the grass-fed cows that supply Pomeroy-based Snowville Creamery. While technically outside of Central Ohio, the image of a milk maid that serves as the company’s logo is well-recognized thought the city.
“Columbus really is the foundation of our whole business,” says Founder Warren Taylor. Fifty percent of the creamery’s sales are generated in Columbus.
Snowville’s milk is found at most grocery stores within the 270 loop. The creamery turns out whole, two percent and fat-free varieties. All are unique products among gallon grocery jugs. The Snowville difference starts with the cows and what they are fed. The cows are smaller and more active than commodity dairy cows due to their primarily grass diet versus a diet of corn and soybeans.
“This is truly milk that is coming from farmers that consider themselves grass farmers first and dairy farmers second,” Taylor says.
All of Snowville’s milk is minimally processed.
“The flavor of our milk is closer to raw milk than any other milk you can get,” Taylor says. It’s pasteurized at the lowest temperature allowed by law and non-homogenized. Taylor says a lot of people confuse the two processes. Pasteurization is a time-temperature relationship and kills disease-causing bacteria found in milk. Homogenization is the process by which the fat in milk is reduced in size so it’s so small it doesn’t rise to the top. Snowville’s non-homogenization allows the cream to rise to the top of their half-gallon cartons.
Milk isn’t the only product in Snowville’s lineup. The creamery produces a number of other dairy goods including whipping cream, half and half, crème fraîche and chocolate milk, as well as some unique flavors of yogurt.
Their vanilla yogurt is the only flavor that anyone else in the U.S. makes. Creative combos like lemon ginger and coffee cardamom are unique to the creamery.
“We are not going to make “me too” products,” Taylor says. “We are not going to make products just to have a broader line of products. We are going to make them uniquely well.” It’s a principle that guides the entire operation and is evident in all everything they churn out.
“The real reward is people’s appreciation of the uniquely good products and uniquely fresh products that we bring to market,” Taylor says.
One of the most unique offerings Snowville brings to the marketplace is crème fraîche.
“Crème fraîche is a really neat product and I don’t think that anybody else makes it in Ohio,” Taylor says.
It’s kind of like the jack-of-all-trades of the dairy world.
“Our crème fraîcheis replaces whipping cream, sour cream and butter in your refrigerator,” Taylor says. At 36 percent fat, it’s the same percentage found in whipping cream, and with its good-fat properties (it’s high in omega-3) it could also be considered a low-fat alternative to butter. Taylor lists numerous recipes for the tart product. It’s great for dips or dolloping on top of chili, and is superior for sauteing.
Taylor describes the process of opening Snowville and everything after as storybook. He’d enjoyed a career in the mainstream dairy industry owning a consulting company that designed dairy processing plants. A move from Long Beach to Megis County introduced Taylor and his wife, Victoria, to Bill Dix, Stacy Hall and a very different dairy world.
“Bill Dix and Stacy Hall taught Victoria and I about grass grazing and the difference between that and the cows raised in barns mainly on corn and soybeans,” Taylor says.
The corn-soybean cows and milk in 6,000 gallon stainless steel tankers was the world Taylor knew, but he could taste the difference in the milk coming from his friends’ farm. He would joke that he was going to build a plant to bottle the product, and eventually the joke became a reality.
Putting all their chips on the table, Taylor and his wife opened Snowville Creamery in December 2007. They were bringing milk to establishments in Columbus like North Market, The Hills and Weilands within two months.
“The small, independents embraced us right away,” Taylor says. With a quality product, they were eventually able to expand into larger chain stores like Kroger and Giant Eagle.
Snowville self-distributes all of their products in Columbus. It’s a system that represents both their biggest challenge and opportunity. Milk is a heavy product that’s expensive to ship. At the same time, there is room for Snowville to earn their chops and be able to work with larger milk distributing centers.
Snowville is also known for its partnership with Jeni’s.
“There’s nothing that compares with what we’ve enjoyed with Jeni’s,” Taylor says. It was a partnership that garnered much attention for both brands. Snowville was able to reference a great ice cream they helped make and in turn, Jeni’s highlighted them as their supplier. He praises Jeni’s model of community capitalism, calling it a business responsible to and for its community.
While it was a great partnership, the arrangement came to an end this spring. Due to Jeni’s rapid growth, Taylor had to make a decision whether they would just become Jeni’s dairy supplier or continue on as Snowville Creamery. In the end, it was their uniquely made products and commitment to making sustainable agriculture mainstream that pushed them in the direction of the creamery.
“We’ll only be able to change the world with sustainable agriculture when sustainable agriculture becomes mainstream,” Taylor says. They don’t want to be just a niche dairy, the creamery wants to raise the bar with their sustainable agricultural practices of being a grass-grazed, non-GMO feeds and forage dairy.
For more information, visit snowvillecreamery.com.