Michael Ragains, Plant Manager and Head Cheesemaker
After more than a decade of repairing A-10s in the United States Air Force, Mike found a new outlet for the same focus and dedication he once used maintaining aircraft: artisan cheesemaking! Mike is the lodestar of Capriole, and despite his many and varied responsibilities around the creamery, he always has a smile for everyone. Mike excels at developing apprentices into thoughtful and self-directed cheesemakers, and always has his eye on the long-term success of Capriole and our cheeses.
Tim Johnstone, Shipping Manager, CCP
After deciding to change course from a career in law, Tim discovered his true passion during a stint behind a local cheese counter. Nowadays, Tim is a bona fide Certified Cheese Professional with the American Cheese Society and wears many hats around the creamery. He’s our go-to for coordinating customer orders and shipments while also keeping us compliant with all food safety regulations and procedures. Kindhearted and knowledgeable, it’s also not uncommon to catch Tim in the plant assisting with production.
Erica Allen, Senior Cheesemaker and Web Director
After first making yogurt for a class at College of the Atlantic, Erica became enamored with both the artistry and microbiology behind fermented foods. She moved back from coastal New England to her old Kentucky home, and now brings her creativity, know-how, and attention to detail to Capriole. You’ll find her both in the plant and in the office, and is always on the look-out for creative social media posts and elegant ad designs.
Dianna Atkins, Senior Cheesemaker
A Louisville native, Dianna holds a B.A. in English from the University of Louisville, and is passionate about creative writing – and, fortunately for us, dairy and artisan foods. She aspires to one day open her own ice cream scoop shop, but in the meantime, she is a leader in the cheese plant: organizing the flow of our work day, setting the pace, and training up new cheesemakers in the best practices for crafting our cheeses from start to finish.
Emily Robinson, Cheesemaker's Apprentice
Despite having grown up in bustling downtown Louisville, Kentucky, Emily is a country girl at heart. She’s an avid equestrian, animal lover, and agriculturalist, and brings a great enthusiasm and a spirit of learning to the plant. As the youngest board member of the Kentucky Goat Producers Association, Emily envisions running a future goat farm with her fiancé, Max. Her favorite part about Capriole? Creating beautiful cheeses alongside this team of goofy, compassionate, progressive cheesemakers.
Shep Vail, Cheesemaker
Educated in Food Science at the University of Kentucky, Shep marries his curiosity and technical skills as a scientist with his commitment to local and artisan food producers. Shep balances work with pleasure outside the creamery by staying active: he plays intramural soccer and now is training to run a marathon. Beyond cheesemaking, Shep also plays around with another fermentation process – making sourdough! His focaccia is a welcome addition to our break table, and pairs marvelously with fresh chevre.
Jake Milliner, Cheesemaker's Apprentice
Jake earned a B.A. in Telecommunications from Ball State, then spent nearly a decade in Austin, Texas. Now, he returns to his Indiana roots, and is working to establish a sustainable produce and microgreens operation at Four Winds Farmstead with his partner, Jenny. At Capriole, Jake’s infectious can-do attitude, solid work ethic, and small business background make him a dependable cheesemaker and handy assistant to Tim and Mike with shipping and plant maintenance.