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Slava Stolyar, 43, from Almaty, the founder of Craft Cheese

Irina Stolyar, 42, from Almaty, the founder of Craft Cheese


On the starting point

Slava. In 2015 I was dealing with neither cheese nor agriculture. I and my family traveled a lot and having arrived in Almaty I started making cheese.

We’d often visited Italy. The north Italy is full of villages making different kinds of cheese. I became interested in this business, watched the way it was done, and eventually absorbed this authentic way of cheese making.


That was how we started our own family cheese factory located in Issyk, outside the city. The city tempo is quite tough. At some point my wife and I decided that children are better to be raised in a place with clean air, fresh water and natural food.

On production

Cheese production is quite simple. Milk is warmed up to a certain temperature, then rennet is added. We add a special bacterium called thermophilic streptococcus so that cheese becomes thick. No external ingredients are used.

It’s me who’s engaged in production. My wife helps me participate in exhibitions and various organic products fairs.


I make cheese twice a week. I’m not willing to produce more, as it takes too much time. My clients are individuals and some cafes ready to get the product for a specific price. Basically, our organic product is made to order. It takes 10 liters of milk to get a kilo of cheese. I’ve been buying milk from two families for three years.

We produce wine for domestic consumption for it’s necessary to produce at least 100,000 deciliters of wine per year under alcohol market regulation laws to obtain the permit. No family winery can do this, so small wineries don’t develop in Kazakhstan.

I believe we’d better take an example from Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine legislation that’s simplified small wineries legalization system long ago.

On cheese

We used to produce five or six types of cheese, now three main types are made. They’re Kachotta classic, Cachotta ziziFora, and Natura Issyk cheese aged in red dry wine.

There’s a fourth type of cheese covered with wild white mold and kept in a basement for five months. Under certain conditions of humidity and temperature fermentation gets unique and cheese turns piquant and full.

A wheel of Kachotta classic costs 1700 tenge, a wheel of Kachotta ziziFora costs 2500 tenge, and the wheel of Natura Issyk is 3000 tenge. The cost of the wheel of cheese kept for 5 months is 3500 tenge. The weight of one wheel is 360-380 grams.


Every Friday I deliver the cheese. For orders over 5000 tenge delivery is free of charge. Otherwise delivery costs 700 tenge.

On tours

The area our factory is located is touristy as there’s a museum of the Golden man, Issyk lake and Turgen waterfalls next to us. We’ve reached an agreement with several travel companies. To date, we have three main tours.

The first tour is a gastronomy one which lasts for 45 minutes and costs 2500 tenge. It’s called "Cheese and wine" or "Escape from the city". Small groups of up to 15-17 people call on us and come to our wine and cheese tastings. In addition, we treat people with homemade eggs and tea, talk about our business.

The second tour is longer and lasts from the morning till 5 pm. Guests are met at the Golden Man Museum, immersed in the Saxon culture of the 5th century, guided to our plant and treated a light breakfast consisting of cheese, flat cakes, salads and homemade jam. Then they break into groups and participate in cheese making process.

People can relax by the pool, lie on the sun loungers and hammocks afterwards. Guests are welcomed to try grilled chicken, vegetables, cheese and homemade wine. People take their own made cheeses home. This package costs 20 000 tenge, children under 5 years are free of charge.


The third tour is called “Enjoy the silence”. It includes all the same, though guests have rest by Issyk lake instead of cheese making, have sandwiches, mulled wine or tea. Coming back, our guests have delicious food and enjoy pleasant conversations. This package costs 20 000 tenge as well.

On plans

We have immense plans. I’ve been cooperating with the government of Kazakhstan, Infyde Spanish consulting company and the World Bank. We work on the development of the tourist cluster in the Almaty region for half a year.


I believe that the Almaty region should be saturated with cheese makers, winemakers and so on. People do need this. Being offered Spanish wine, our guests say: "No, we’d better try yours”, as they need something local.

So my goal is to change cheese production issues. Although having certificates, small industries face many obstacles while obtaining a permit, as all the sanitary and epidemiological laws were written for large industries.

Also, we’re planning to find an investor to plant 2-3 hectares of vineyard.

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