Feb 15, 2019
What do Eleanor Roosevelt, Dolce Vita shoes and an ice cream shop have in common…? Van Lamprou.
What do Eleanor Roosevelt, Dolce Vita shoes and an ice cream shop have in common…? Van Lamprou. If Lamprou’s name rings a bell, it might be because you read the news that he purchased and has been restoring the time-forgotten Eleanor Roosevelt estate in Clermont, in Columbia County. Or, you read that he sold his half of his upmarket designer shoe line to Steve Madden. Or maybe, you are into dairy farms, and know him as the new owner of Del’s Dairy Farm and Dutchess Creamery in Red Hook and it’s neighboring Del’s Dairy Creme ice cream shop in Rhinebeck.
Lamprou reported that he and a friend started designing women’s shoes in a lower eastside basement which stunningly culminated into the Dolce Vita shoe company by 2001. But, upon selling the business to women’s fashion mogul Steve Madden 13 years later for $60 million, he found himself nonplussed with the world of haute couture and its posh lifestyle. Lamprou was charmed, however, when visiting the simplistic, bucolic lifestyle found within an Iowa dairy farm owned by his sister in law’s husband, and decided he wanted that for himself, and set an intention for his own farm life in upstate New York.
Lamprou said he “stumbled upon” the opportunity to buy Eleanor Roosevelt’s Clermont estate Oak Terrace, which he did in 2013 for $2.85 million. The Second Empire-style mansion built by Roosevelt’s grandfather in 1872 is now undergoing an extensive restoration. Lamprou said he intends for community and civic organizations to have use of the space for offices or meetings to honor the spirit of Roosevelt’s work.
Lamprou and his wife bought Del’s Dairy Creme along with farmland from the original owner in Red Hook in 2017, where Lamprou established Dutchess Creamery—a state of the art facility using technology that monitors the health of the cows, who also have their own nutritionist. All milk products are being processed on the farm. “I decided to make ice cream because it makes people happy. It’s as simple as that,” said Lamprou. “How much cooler would it be if you had your own cows? Specific cows: Guernsey.”
The Guernsey cow is known for producing high-butterfat, high-protein milk with a high concentration of beta carotene. As a medium-sized animal, Guernsey’s produce their high-quality milk while consuming 20-30 percent less feed per pound of milk produced than larger dairy breeds. Guernsey cows are also known for their ability to be bread to produce A2 milk. Lamprou explained that the two most common types of beta casein proteins found in milk are A1 and A2. The two proteins are digested differently, and some stomachs have a sensitivity to the A1 protein, causing problems with digestion. Those who think they are reacting to the lactose in milk, are actually reacting to the A1 protein, said Lamprou, who added that A2 is proving itself in the market right now. Dutchess Creamery will not be open to the public as a public venue, but will be operating before Spring, and has already begun limited production. “Dutchess Creamery will not be part of the dairy industry,” said Lamprou. “We are very much glass bottle-driven.”
Del’s Dairy Creme will sell his A2 protein ice cream. The dairy bar will be open and operating by late spring, early summer.
Lamprou said he met HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson through mutual professional acquaintances. “[Johnson] has been a real sounding board with community farming questions and curiosities, how to navigate this and that,” said Lamprou. “She has been a good mentor and not just about the farm, the markets, but also what I was doing in the bigger picture of what’s around in the Hudson Valley.” Johnson also connected Lamprou with HVADC’s dairy expert, Dennis Moore, a former New York Ag & Markets Dairy Inspector, has been working with HVADC to help New York’s dairy farmers. Moore consulted with Lamprou on creamery design, USDA navigation and creamery plant set-up—even taking Lamprou on “field trips” to other creamery operations.
“Van has invested in his community in many ways, including the establishment of Dutchess Creamery and re-opening Del’s Dairy Crème,” said Johnson. “He is a terrific example of the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in agriculture here in the Hudson Valley by not only tackling a new industry but an industry that has struggled these past few years. HVADC was able to help him navigate issues and connect him with area and regional talent to help make it happen.”
Lamprou said he did not experience any real obstacles out of the norm for those trying to launch a new agribusiness-- permits, review boards, easements, and said it’s now about educating customers and giving people what they want.
Lamprou said the near future is about the ice cream scoop shop specifically, “And making it a happy experience. We are all looking to create some place to be happy and things to make us happy and we want them to be from our community because that makes us happy, and all these little things pile up.” Del’s Dairy Creme will be family friendly with hopscotch, “jump around” games, shuffleboard and ring toss.
For more information about Dutchess Creamery, please visit DutchessCreamery.com.
For more information about the Incubator Without Walls program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/incubator-without-walls
Photo Source: Dutchess Creamery, duchesscreamery.com