Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dairy and Resort in Venezuela

They are in their 80's and still making artisan cheese!
Joaquin Avellan and his wife, Carmen Isabel Rangel

Finca el Susurro de San Benito in Baranitas, Venezuela, is both an organic dairy farm making artisan cheeses and a resort for those who are 55 and older. The artisan cheese business is called IRCOLAC (Place of Light).

The resort is a new agro-tourism venture intended to provide a peaceful environment for relaxation at a farm in the Piedmont region of Venezuela at the base of the Andees.  It offers 2 suites and 150 acres where there is bird and butterfly watching, river walks, mountain walks, rafting, kayaking and day visits to the high Andes.  There is also "delightful dining and watching artisan cheese making."  

Carmen designed the landscape

Joaquin Avellan, the founder, wrote to us:

We are located in Barinitas, at the shores of the Santo Domingo River who comes from the Andes. My wife and daughter go every day for a very cold dip every morning. They have to walk a mile down the mountain. I do this walk Monday, Wednesday and Friday to our cheese room in the bottom of the mountain. Most people do not believe that we can make this walk at our age of 80 years. That is one of the reasons that keep us very young.

Dining Room
Breakfast Area

Joaquin came to cheesemaking late in life, after working as an industrial engineer, developer and founder of a computer manufacturing company. He and his wife, Carmen (a landscape architect) have 4 daughters and 3 sons, 5 of which became US citizens during Joaquin's graduate studies at Rice and Houston University in the 70's. 

When Joaquin retired,  he and Carmen moved to the farm in Barinitas and started making cheese.  They are in their eighties, but they still rise at 4am to work the farm and manage the resort.  (In one of his e-mails he mentioned that they have been meditating for over 50 years.) 

IRCOLAC was founded in 2008.  Joaquin wrote to us about his goals for the company:

We hope to be producing 5 tons of different types of cheese RIPENED to penetrate the domestic market and compete with imports (Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego, Brie, Parmesan Cheese and Yogurt). We have penetrated our market with Especial de Barinitas and Dos Lunas de Barinitas. 

Don Lunas made in Austin

Today, the Dos Lunas is being manufactured in Austin, Texas, by our son Joaquin Gonzalo Avellán. He works with his sister, Elizabeth Avellán, in the movie making business. Elizabeth has produced (with her ex-husband Robert Rodriguez) a large amount of movies: (El Mariachi, Desperado, Spy Kids, Sin City, Machete, etc.). Today she is producing When the Angels Sing.

At their website, (available to view in 6 languages) they offer a complete Step-by Step description of their cheese making process, including the wonderful diagram below:

The Make Room

The Finished Products
Empaque Especiale, a fresh cheese sold sliced for sandwiches
Bola Manchego
Until they expand their territory, you will have to go to Venezuela to try IRCOLAC cheese.  But, why not?  They will pick you up at the airport, cater to your every need and show you how they make cheese!

Info: or          


1 comment:

Dalyn (AKA The Queen of Quite Alot) said...

beautiful! I'd love to go there and make and EAT some of that gorgeous cheese. I saw the lush grass and thought how marvelous the milk must taste, and thus, the cheese! Grass fed, happy critters, making delicious, rich milk. Jealous!