The Man behind the Cheese Counter

A refreshingly unique aspect of working at V. Sattui is that it is much like being a part of a wonderful, albeit wacky, family. And one of our family members is celebrating his 30th year of working with us, through the thick and the thin, day in and day out, rain or shine. That man is Keith Idle and he is awesome. He started out behind the cheese counter and there he has remained & thrived (I mean, why would you leave, you’re literally surrounded by cheese!), a V. Sattui staple and reigning King of the creamy, the crumbly, the tangy and the slightly pungent (and sometimes the very pungent) plethora of cheeses from around the world we sell here in our marketplace.
 

For a time, Keith lived in the small, stucco house on the property that now houses the administrative offices. This is the very same house where Dario Sattui, the owner of V. Sattui, lived when he originally purchased the property that developed into all that is V. Sattui Winery. Keith lived upstairs at the time (now the home of Tom’s office), with Tom and Dario having offices downstairs. The production area for his various spreads (Artichoke Cream Cheese, Sun-dried Tomato) was housed downstairs as well and this is the house where Keith first made Keefer – that delicious spread he concocted with fresh garlic and herbs, whose addictive properties keep customers coming back for more and lamenting that they cannot get it elsewhere, nor get it past TSA security.
 

{Keith back in the day, flanked by Winery President, Tom Davies & then-Manager of our Deli and Marketplace, Kathy Knowles}

 

Being a Cheesemonger is no easy task; cheese is a living food and Keith treats it as such. After cutting into a Brie, it needs to be wrapped and put away immediately or it will die. He is constantly checking and re-checking the cheeses to make sure their quality is up to par. His dedication and attention to the sensitivity of what the cheese needs is admirable and tireless. Keith also keeps up with the cheese world by visiting cheese shows in the area. Several years back, Dario sent him to Italy and France for a few weeks with a mission to visit over 50 cheese shops to make sure V. Sattui’s marketplace was an authentic one. Keith is so steeped in cheese and its language that he has learned French simply though working with cheese. In fact, he was called Pierre so much by his fellow employees that it eventually ended up on his nametag – which he still wears to this day.
 

But Keith is not just another cheese-y face! He is an avid reader, devouring fiction and non-fiction alike (especially on the subject of cheese). Occasionally you may find him out on the green, as golf is a pastime he has indulged since childhood. His two big passions (after cheese, of course) are guitar and board games. He started playing on his sister’s guitar when he was just a boy, putting records on and trying to imitate the sounds. He loves playing bass, loves the deep, melodic rhythm of it and how it guides and unites the other instruments.  For a time he was in band (with a couple co-workers of yore) named “Binge” and has played at various weddings, as well as a couple local venues – Ana’s Cantina & the Silverado Brewing Company. Their repertoire included mostly classic rock, but Keith himself is a big fan of fusion or acid jazz and admires the likes of John Scofield and Charlie Hunter.  As for board games – he probably owns hundreds and doesn’t like to play the same game more than a few times. And we’re not talking Chutes and Ladders or Monopoly. Keith loves elaborate board games and can be found many a Thursday evening somewhere at the winery playing in-depth, highly strategic games with co-workers that can last several hours. Cheese and wine is always involved, of course! We recently sat down to a game called Domaine, a strategic game of territorial conquest, where Keith bested yours truly but lost out to another friend (& co-worker).
 

Keith’s tenure here speaks to the love and loyalty we employees have for V. Sattui, and the long-term relationships we foster here. He is an integral part of the company, and I couldn’t imagine my day without his advice on the best Blue with a creamier texture versus a crumbly one. Or the little samples he slips me when he’s slicing up cheeses for the case. If I were to liken him to a cheese, it would be our Cave Aged Gouda – aged and a little nutty, but much beloved by staff and customers alike. And yes, he is single, ladies.

 

{Keith at his 30th Anniversay celebration.
LEFT, with old pals Lynn (Cellar Club rockstar) and Ali (Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Manager).
RIGHT, with Jay (support staff and go-to guy) and Caitlin (Director of Events).}

 

Look forward to some cheese-y musings from the man himself, Keith Idle, in the coming weeks.

 

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