There’s something undeniable about the ooey, gooey golden goodness of cheese that draws people in, makes them relish in its deliciousness and leaves them smiling, yet always wanting for more. Vermont, with its plethora of dairy farms, is a hub for cheese production, and – praise to the cheese gods – the Vermont Cheese Council has put together a Vermont Cheese Trail that offers visitors a look into the inner workings of dairy farms, cheese production and, of course, tips on where to taste and purchase some of the best locally-made cheeses.
While there are many stops on the Vermont Cheese Trail, we’ve focused here on farms and cheese making centers that are open most days, yet often seasonally. When planning a trip to these and other stops on the Vermont Cheese Trail, be sure to call ahead to confirm operation hours.
Click here to learn more about the Vermont Cheese Trail.
Billings Farm & Museum
Billings Farm welcomes the public to step into a working Vermont farm to learn about day-to-day farm happenings, from milking the Jersey cows to handling the horses and oxen to monitoring the calf nursery. The 1890s restored farmhouse on the property, which serves as the museum, is host to a variety of interactive exhibits and activities that teach visitors about life and values of turn-of-the-century farm families. The farm also produces delicious cheddar cheeses, each aged for at least 60 days, from the milk from their Jersey cows. Top flavors include Woodstock reserve cheddar, savory with a touch of sharpness, sweet cheddar, sweet with a creamy texture, and butter cheddar, creamy and delicate with a dash of saltiness.
Blue Ledge Farm
The cheese making process at Blue Ledge Farm centers around a commitment to respecting and protecting the goats whose milk makes the cheese as well as the land they graze on. The result is some truly spectacular cheeses, including “Lake’s Edge,” which was listed as one of the 100 greatest cheeses in the world by Wine Spectator magazine in 2008. Solar panels provide almost half of the farm’s electricity, making a cozy home for their Alpine and Lamancha dairy goats who produce eight varieties of cheese, such as maple chevre,” laced with Vermont maple syrup, “La Luna,” a raw-milk cheese similar to a gouda or havarti and “Camembrie,” a creative camembert and brie hybrid.
Boston Post Dairy
This stop on the Vermont Cheese Trail is set against the stunning landscape of Jay Peak and the Missisquoi River and home to 180 dairy goats and 95 dairy cows. A variety of cheeses are made and sold on site, including aged goat cheeses, aged goat/cow blends and fresh cow’s cheeses. One of the most popular is “Eleven Brothers,” an aged goat cheese that won first place at the 2013 American Cheese Competition. In addition to cheese, visitors can also purchase goat milk soaps, maple syrup and bakery items in the on-site store, all made on the premises.
Boucher Family Farm
While the Boucher Family Farm has been in the family for 14 generations, it wasn’t until the current owner’s wife decided she needed a new farm project that they began making cheese. Dawn Boucher now makes 300 pounds of raw-milk cheeses by hand at the farm’s dairy every week, many of which are named lovingly for friends and family. Favorites include “Tomme Collins,” a sharp, aged grating cheese and “Boucher Blue,” a sweet, creamy, crumbly blue.
Bridport Creamery is located in western Vermont, right up against Lake Champlain, owned by a husband and wife team who both grew up on family farms. Today, while the Mister tends the 700 dairy cows, wife Nicole has decided to go back to school at the University of Vermont’s Vermont Institute of Artisanal Cheese to earn her master cheesemaker certificate, an education put to good use making cheeses from the farm’s Swiss herds. Products include cheese curds and the signature “Swisserella,” available in a variety of flavors.
Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Waterbury Center & Quechee
A cooperative of 1,200 family dairy farms located throughout New York and New England, Cabot Creamery produces cheese found in stores in both areas, including two flagship stores in Vermont, both listed as stops on the Vermont Cheese Trail.
The Waterbury Center store is close to other popular area attractions including the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. Visitors can sample and purchase Cabot’s cheeses and other Vermont specialty foods on site, including a selection of Vermont microbrews and hard ciders.
The Cabot Quechee Store is located in the popular Quechee Gorge Village, a hot destination for tourists, shopping and antiquing.
Cabot produces dozens of cheeses, mostly cheddars, and in a variety of flavors, including extra sharp, “seriously” sharp, chipotle, hot habanero, tomato basil and hot Buffalo Wing.
Consider Bardwell Farm
Founded in 1864 by Consider Bardwell himself, the Consider Bardwell Farm sits on 300 acres, allowing plenty of room for its cows and goats to graze on organic pastures, resulting in raw milk cheeses that are antibiotic and hormone free. In addition to selling its cheeses, the farm offers tours, cheese making workshops and farm dinners. Cheese selections include “Danby,” an extra-aged goat cheese similar to a Piave or Asiago, “Manchester,” a nutty, raw goat tomme and “Slyboro,” a raw goat cheese washed in hard cider for a sharp apple flavor.
Grafton Village Cheese Company
Brattleboro & Grafton
The Grafton Village Cheese Company has been operating as a cooperative since 1892 and currently produces a line of premium cheddar cheeses with milk from its local member farms. The retail stores in both Brattleboro and Grafton feature cheese making workshops with windows allowing the public to watch the operation. Featured flavors include truffle cheddar, smoked chili cheddar, with habanero, jalapeno and pasilla peppers, and Grafton Village maple smoked cheddar, a 100-day aged cheese smoked over maplewood chips. The cooperative also produces a cave-aged line of cheeses, made from cow’s and sheep’s milk and aged in local Grafton caves, making it a must-hit stop on the Vermont Cheese Trail.
Neighborly Farms of Vermont
Like many other Vermont farms, Neighborly Farms is family-owned and has history dating back many generations. In fact, the farm still has its original farmhouse, built in the 1880s. Spanning over 150 acres, the farm is home to almost 200 Holstein cows and practices 100 percent organic practices, meaning the farm is devoid of antibiotics, hormones or commercial fertilizers. Eleven cheeses are produced at the farm including a raw-milk cheddar, a colby and a feta. Those who visit can also taste homemade Vermont maple syrup made in the on-site sugar house.
Plymouth Artisan Cheese
Plymouth Artisan Cheese claims to be the second oldest cheese factory in the United States, making cheese for the past 125 years, and over time, not much has changed. The farm’s cheese making process honors and holds true to the historic, traditional methods and each wheel is crafted, cut and waxed by hand. This farm on the Vermont Cheese Trail was originally built by Col. John Coolidge, father of President Calvin Coolidge, and the production is now run by a graduate of the Vermont Institute of Artisanal Cheese and his team, whose efforts can be watched through viewing windows at the Plymouth Cheese Factory. Selections in the hand-waxed line include smoked, garlic, peppercorn, hot pepper and sage & herbs.
Shelburne Farms produces raw cow’s milk cheeses from their herd of grass-fed Brown Swiss cows, making 170,000 pounds of cheese each year. In addition to delicious cheeses, visitors to Shelburne Farms will also find a variety of fun farm activities including scenic walking trails, a children’s farmyard and historic barn, as well as educational programs and classes for all ages. Featured cheeses to try include ones from their Farmstead cheddar line, including two-year, three-year, smoked and clothbound.
This 180-year-old farm on the Vermont Cheese Trail is not only home to numerous Holstein and Jersey milking cows, but also goats, pigs, donkeys and Scottish Highlanders. In addition to cheese making activities and workshops, the farm also offers seasonal sleigh rides and educational activities. Taylor Farms produces Gouda cheeses in flavors like maple smoked Gouda and caraway/cumin.
Vermont Shepherd creates sheep’s and cow’s milk cheeses on their 250-acre farm, each in small, 10-30 wheel batches. The cheeses are produced in two varieties, according to and named in honor of the seasons. “Verano” (meaning summer), is aged 3-5 months, ripening in August with a sweet flavor with hints of thyme. “Invierno” (translating to winter) is aged five to nine months months, producing a strong flavor with a hint of spice. Visitors to the farm can also purchase wool and soaps made from sheep’s milk on site.
How does a trip along the Vermont Cheese Trail sound to you? Or tell us your favorite kind of cheese. Do you get cheery for Vermont cheddar or feel blue without your gorgonzola? Share with us in the comments, and make it cheesy!