Gabrielle started Kervella Cheese in 1984 to enable her to raise her children on a farm in Western Australia.

Gabrielle started Kervella Cheese in 1984 to enable her to raise her children on a farm in Western Australia. Always passionate about healthy food, she learnt the benefits of sustainable organic farming by observing the improvement in the health of her goats. In the early 1980s she studied cheesemaking the traditional way as an apprentice for Master Cheesemakers in France, where she lived for 20 years.

When she returned, it took a few years to adapt her skills to Australian conditions, whilst educating Australians to like the results! Her efforts culminated 15 years later in twice winning the overall Best Cheese Award in Sydney. Over the years she travelled to London, New York and Slow Food Italy to represent Australian food, and judged cheese in France.

Alan had been a cheesemaker and consultant in South Africa who shared Gabrielle’s passion for organic farming and creating authentic traditional cheese. They met when he contacted her to sponsor him into Australia. Kervella Cheese flourished along with their creative partnership.

In 2007 Gabrielle visited Motueka to help her father, Major General Sandy Thomas, with the ANZAC parades. Sitting on her bed in the family bach in Kaiteriteri, watching the sun rise over the ocean, she received a strong inner message to sell the Australian farm and return to her birthplace, Golden Bay. Back in Australia, she mentioned the experience to a Maori friend, who said, “You have been called back to New Zealand.” She laughed, but he wasn’t amused!Alan was delighted at the idea of moving to New Zealand. Amazingly the farm and business sold easily. In 2008 they returned to Golden Bay, where they bought the perfect four-hectare property … supposedly to retire.

They quickly discovered that their neighbours, the Mansons, farmed their cows sustainably – they remineralised their pastures, cut down on their herd and treated the cows kindly. They also learned that New Zealand allowed raw milk cheese, which is considered the pinnacle of traditional cheese, with more complexity and depth of flavour than pasteurised cheese. 

Over the last eight years Gabrielle and Alan have become accredited and are now one of only three cheese businesses in New Zealand allowed to make raw cheese.