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 seven 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.
BILLING 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.
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.
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.
CONSIDER BARWELL 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 tome, and “Slyboro,” a raw goat cheese washed in hard cider for a sharp apple flavor.
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% 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.