A foodie tour showcasing just cheese? Yes, please! The Vermont Cheese Trail offers creamy experiences throughout the state
Most states don’t have official cheese trails for foodie tours or official cheese councils. However, Vermont, a state with a deep passion for cheese, has both. Thanks to the efforts of the Vermont Cheese Council, foodies who just can’t get enough of the delicious varieties have more than 40 different locations across the state to choose from. They continually serve some 150 often award-winning flavors and textures to satisfy everyone’s cravings.
Embark on A Cheesy Adventure in Vermont
To go down the Vermont Cheese Trail on a foodie tour, one must have a strategy in mind. The Cheese Council puts out a map of its members, color-coded based on their accommodations to visitors. Some of the council’s members are on the map in red, meaning that while you can find their cheeses in restaurants and stores, they are not open to the public. Contrarily, others welcome visitors, though some require appointments to be made in advance, so make sure to call ahead. Even with those caveats, that still leaves a startling number of destinations for even the most intrepid dairy lovers.
How to Foodie Tour the Vermont Cheese Trail
The Vermont Cheese Trail is not a set path and can be started at any point. National Geographic, having named the Cheese Trail a “Drive of a Lifetime” advocates starting in Plymouth Notch and doing the state in a big loop. But there is no particular reason you have to start there if you don’t want to, particularly if you are not attempting to do the entire trail in one fell swoop. The beauty of the trail is that you can choose exactly how much of it you want to savor.
There are some patterns in the locations of the stops. Most open to the public are facilities located in the southern half of Vermont. A large clump around Manchester and another going north on Interstate 89 towards Montpelier is another a great spot to begin. If you’re willing to call a lot of places in advance, the area around Middlebury is also full of options. Doing a circle of all three of these areas would take you past nearly all of the ones that are fully open to the public. This is with the exception of a few near the Canadian border and some by Brattleboro in the south.
But enough strategizing. Let’s talk Vermont Cheese Trail!
A Few Vermont Cheese Trail Participants
These Vermont cheesemongers, some dating back to the 19th century, are simply a few suggestions to get you started on your savory foodie tour.
Plymouth Cheese Factory in Plymouth (Southcentral Vermont)
Plymouth Cheese Factory is by far the most historical cheese facility and America’s oldest cheddar which still uses the original 1890 Coolidge family recipe. Their facility is located on the Calvin Coolidge Historical Site which is open seven days a week. Enjoy self-guided tours with windows allowing views of cheesemaking in the process and a cheese shop for take-home treats.
Vermont Creamery in Websterville (Northcentral Vermont)
During your Vermont foodie tour, head to the Vermont Creamery which focuses on European-style butter, goat cheeses, crème fraiche and mascarpone. Furthermore, they are consistent winners at international cheese competitions. The creamery uses a network of some 30 local family farms to ensure only the freshest ingredients.
Crowley Cheese in Healdville (Southcentral Vermont)
Crowley Cheese in Healdville has made a distinctive variety described as a cheddar “without the bite.” They’ve been using largely the same method since 1824, free of hormones, additives or preservatives. The Crowley Cheese factory, constructed in 1882, has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is the oldest one of its kind continuously in use in the United States. Crowley’s rinsed curd process they practice results in an especially creamy and sweet cheese compared to a traditional Vermont cheddar.
Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet (Southeast Vermont)
Consider Bardwell Farm is a farm that prides itself on its goat cheeses with distinctive names like Rupert and Equinox. Predominantly from Jersey cows, the milk is high in fats and proteins and rich in omega-3s. The result is cheese of exceptional freshness, although it is not available consistently throughout the year. All of the cheeses are handmade and aged right there on the farm.
Cabot Creamery in Cabot (Northeast Vermont)
Cabot Creamery proves that cheese does not have to be made on a small scale to still be delicious. Originally a co-op founded in 1919, it now has some 1,200 farmers as members. At the production facility in Cabot, visitors can go on a guided tour and see every step of the cheese-making process before enjoying a few free samples. Cabot manufactures over 20 varieties of cheese, including a cheddar that has won awards certifying it as the world’s best.
Sugarbush Farms in Woodstock (Southeast Vermont)
An option off the beaten path is Sugarbush Farms, located in the center of the state and specializing in maple syrup as well as cheese production. Admission is free, as are samples of the farm’s numerous grades of maple syrup and delectable cheeses. Sugarbush’s specialty is the Hickory and Maple Natural Smoked Cheddar. The farm also prides itself on the beautiful natural setting and many visitors say that the scenic drive alone is worth the effort it takes to get there.
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The Vermont Cheese Council: vtcheese.com or 866-261-8595