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Nov 12, 2008 03:27 PM

Vermont Cheese Makers

I'll be in Vermont the weekend after Thanksgiving, staying at the Four Columns Inn in Newfane. I'd like to visit a few creameries, looking for good quality, artisanal cheeses including, but not limited to cheddar types.
I've found a map of cheese makers open to the public at but don't know which are worthy of a visit. Shelburne Farms looks promising because it has other attractions such as hiking trails, etc. as well, but is it worth the long drive?
I've been to the Grafton store a few years ago, and found it to be just o.k. I'd like to visit a creamery that makes quality, perhaps award-winning cheese that may not be available at my local supermarket in NJ (as Grafton and Cabot are).
Any recommendations?

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  1. My favorites:

    Taylor Farm in Londonderry has some excellent varieties of aged gouda.

    Thistle Hill Farm in North Pomfret offers a wonderful Tarentaise.

    farther north, in Corinth, you'll find Blythedale Farm, offering camembert-style, brie, blue and gruyere style cheeses.

    Personally, I think Shelburne Farms is totally worth the visit, but it is a long way to drive...

    2 Replies
    1. re: signothetimes53

      Thanks so much! Glad to see you mention Taylor Farm--it seemed very promising to me, as a gouda-lover! The others you mentioned also have my mouth watering :) I'll have to start mapping out my weekend "cheese tour" to include as many points as possible (good thing the price of gas has gone down a bit! I'll have more to spend on cheese).

      1. re: signothetimes53

        Shelburne Farms tours are closed for the season - opening again in mid-May. The cheeses will still be available for sampling at the Welcome Center, and you can still use the walking trails, but no actual cheesemaking I'm afraid.

        Champlain Creamery in Vergennes is one of the VT Cheese tour producers I've visited recently. Very small operations (2 guys, one room), but their Triple Creme is killer.

      2. I love the Cabot cheese factory tour. When we have out of town guests we always take them there (well, there, Ben and Jerry's and Cold Hollow Cider Mill). They have things in their factory store you can't even get at their outlet store in Waterbury. :)

        32 Replies
        1. re: Morganna

          I agreed that the Cabot Cheese factory tour (in Cabot VT) is well worth the trip. Moreover, being able to sample all of their cheeses in their gift shop after the tour is a great way to determine which of their cheeses tastes the bests to you. Finally, the area around Cabot is quite beautiful.

          1. re: Delhiwala

            I'm sure Cabot's a great tourist destination but if you're really into cheese, something I'm not but the original poster seems to be, there probably are better options, including those listed above.

            You've already checked out, but it might be worth it to take a look at the Vermont Cheese Book (

            1. re: stroshow3

              THere are probably plenty of "artisanal" producers pandering to the soft goat cheese market (stick it on your arugula) but Cabot's 3 year old cheddar can stand up to anyone's.

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                Xiao Yang, I find nothing wrong with Cabot's aged cheddars but, as I've said, I'm already familiar with them and would like to find producers whose cheese is not available with a drive to Wegman's. Just as I've found several smaller-scale (I won't use the word artisanal, as it seems to have some
                negative connotation), local NJ cheesemakers who are producing exquisite cheeses with great character, I'm hoping to find the same up in VT.
                :) I'm not in the market for goat cheese, although it definitely has its place and does pair well with arugula, I agree.

              2. re: stroshow3

                Thanks, strochow3...I just ordered a copy of the Vermont Cheese Book on Amazon! :)

                Perhaps I'll have to re-think it, but Cabot seemed a little more "mass-produced" than what I'm looking for. I've already tried their array of cheddars, as the full range of their products is readily available here in good NJ supermarkets.

                1. re: choco_lab38

                  Yeah. I haven't been to the Cabot factory but I have to imagine that it's great for tourists but not for real cheese fanatics.

                  1. re: stroshow3

                    I have a real issue with this. As I said before, there are cheeses and other products available at the Cabot factory that are not available -anywhere- else. Interesting cheeses that just aren't sold in any of the stores.

                    Yes, it is mass produced, no they're not "artisinal" but they are interesting, fun, inexpensive, and their cheese is as good as any artisinal cheese you'll run into. I much prefer Cabot cheddar to any of the other cheddars produced in Vermont or NY, and there has got to be a reason that it is consistantly winning -world's best cheddar-. No, it's not some fancy little cake covered with blue ash with thick veins of mold, or particularly stinky with unctuousness and flavour to send you to the heights of heaven.

                    But it IS a great cheddar, which is a very good, solid cheese, and the factory tour is fun, and when you consider that this little factory, which is a COOPERATIVE for dairy farmers, is continually producing the WORLD'S best cheddar, as recognized by oh, the rest of the world who are into cheese, Cabot is -well worth- visiting. It's not some huge facility, it is smaller than the Ben and Jerry's plant in Waterbury, for instance. They're not some huge corporate cheese producer, and it's only marginally larger than the Plymouth Cheese producer's facility.

                    Now I'm done defending Cabot. Obviously you can all think what you want, but I won't have Cabot dissed just because it's not some fancy pants artisinal cheese. I love artisinal cheeses, and I'm happy as can be that I'm in an area that has so many options on that front. However, my thinking Cabot cheddar is a great cheddar and the factory tour is fun does -not- make me not a real cheese fanatic. Since you've not even taken the tour, I'd say you're not really in the best position to make such a statement anyway.

                    1. re: Morganna

                      I'm not dissing Cabot at all. I eat their cheese all the time - their pepper jack makes fantastic nachos. I prefer Grafton Cheddar to Cabot Cheddar but that doesn't really matter. All I'm saying is that based on the first post and the OP's subsequent comments that the Cabot factory tour doesn't seem like a great fit. I love Cabot Cheese (I'm working to get their cheese served here at school, actually), but all I'm saying is that Cabot doesn't seem to be really what the OP is looking for here (as was subsequently confirmed basically).

                      Like signothetimes, I'm not here to convince you whether or not to buy Cabot cheese, it just seems like it's not the type of place the OP is looking for ...

                      1. re: stroshow3

                        According to the original post, my suggestion fit the criteria. Subsequent posts by the OP further explained their goal, and yes, I agree, if they don't want a factory tour at all, Cabot isn't what they're looking for.

                        All of my subsequent posts have been in response to things people other than the OP have said (honestly, pushing my own agenda? really? I have a cheddar agenda?? who knew?). The OP might have had specific goals, but other people coming to this thread later might not be quite so specific, so the information I provided would still be pertinent.

                        However, just to be really clear about this, the Cabot factory isn't some huge conglomerate factory. No, it's not a single small family milking their own goats then processing the cheese in a special room that's been converted from an old barn or something. But it is still a small factory and is an astounding feat, in itself.

                        Cabot Creamery is a cooperative creamery, it is owned by the farmers who produce the milk. All of the milk they get is from local, Vermont farmers, many of whom have relatively small farms, and all of which are family farms, not corporate agriculture. They pool their resources and have managed to produce award winning cheeses that can be found in grocery stores all around the country (I think I saw some up in Quebec when I was up there, too but I'm not sure on that).

                        That they've been able to do that from the one tiny factory in Cabot and a slightly larger one in another town II can't remember right now, is a truly amazing thing. Also, that this small Vermont cooperative competes with its cheese on an international level, is another really cool thing. Cabot is a really great example of community and agriculture working together to create a successful business on the global level.

                        As such, it is a wonderful example of Vermont business for folks to see. It is as much a slice of real Vermont as Lazy Lady Farm, Vermont Cheese and Butter, Butterworks Farm, and Pete's Greens.

                        And no, I don't work for Cabot Creamery. I don't live in Cabot. I am a state employee (and no I don't work in the Dept. of Agriculture or Tourism, either), and I just got defensive because I felt like people who had never been weren't giving a fair shake to Cabot Creamery's factory tour. Probably I've beaten this dead horse quite long enough, though.

                        1. re: Morganna

                          Morganna's posting is absolutely true - and I don't work for Cabot (or live in Cabot) either.

                      2. re: Morganna

                        I totally agree with Morganna on this. To lable Cabot as a tourist cheese is totally unfair.

                        1. re: Morganna


                          Cabot's clothbound cheddar -- the single-farm cheddar that is aged at Jasper Hill, not any of the regular Cabot cheddars -- won the American Cheese Society best-of-show award award two years ago. It wasn't deemed "the WORLD'S best cheddar" by any means.

                          The award it won was significant, though.


                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            The clothbound cheddar that you're referring to is, I believe, the one aged by Jasper Hill for Cabot that other posters were debating about.

                            1. re: choco_lab38

                              CL38, yes, thank you.

                              I've noted that distinction twice already today...above and in the article below.

                            2. re: maria lorraine

                              The list of awards Cabot cheeses have won is too long for me to put in here. This is a link:


                              Suffice to say I wasn't talking about whatever cheese you were talking about.

                              1. re: Morganna

                                Um... Actually Morganna, according to your own link, in 2006, the cheese we are talking about won Grand Champion, Best of Class from the American Cheese Society and Second Place at the World Championship Cheese Contest.

                                Frankly, I'm finding this debate about "artisan cred" to be just so much vapor. I think it's a great thing that Vermont Farmers can command a premium price for their efforts. And the only question I care about is whether the cheese is any good.

                                1. re: rcianci

                                  Might be the cheese you were talking about, wasn't the cheese I was talking about. I was just talking about how Cabot is award winning cheese, and my impression that this was on an international scale. I could be wrong about the international part, but it -is- award winning cheese, consistently, and not just the cloth wrapped cheddar, which I'd never even heard about before this thread. I'm not trying to give Cabot "artisan cred". Cabot isn't artisan cheese (as defined by small batches, or whatever the current definition is). All I've been saying is it's good cheese, and it's recognized by groups that evaluate this sort of stuff as good cheese.

                                  1. re: Morganna

                                    Ah, I see where you're coming from, Morganna. Cabot makes some passable cheddar, and the clothbound aged cheddar aged at Jasper Hill has received some acclaim.

                                    As far as being the makers of the World's Best Cheddar, as Cabot proudly touts, or that you have said, that's overstatement.

                                    The World Competition of Cheese, where Cabot has won some awards, is a contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Despite its claims of interntationalism, it draws few international entries. Even so, not a single US entry has ranked in the top three since 2000.

                                    In 2008, Cabot won in the category of medium cheddar, second and third place in the cottage cheese category, second in the lowfat category. Other cheese makers took the best in
                                    the other cheddar categories.

                                    In 2006, Cabot won for their medium cheddar and for their sharp cheddar, third place for their extra sharp cheddar and second place for their salted butter.

                                    But any "world" contest of cheddar in which the great cheddars of the world are not
                                    entered, like the great cheddars of England and Ireland -- Artisan Somerset,
                                    the Neal's Yard cheddars, Montgomery, to name a few -- cannot be said to be any measure of international greatness.

                                    Which doesn’t mean that Cabot’s cheddar doesn’t taste good to you, or that the clothbound
                                    cheddar specially aged at Jasper Hill isn’t a tangy piece of cheddar goodness.

                                    But for the most part, the Cabot cheese awards are just marketing and hype.

                                    And actually this relates to food and wine contests in general.

                                    I'm very familiar with wine competitions (I'm a judge at several), and know that these competitions serve two purposes: they're essentially money generators for the organizers
                                    ($75 a bottle entry fee x 4000 entries and little overhead, and you get an idea of the profit motive) and a source of marketing hype for the wineries.

                                    In the case of this "international" cheese competition, and most wine competitions,
                                    the best producers never enter. They don't need to -- they have all the acclaim they need, and and public demand is already high for their product.

                                    So contests award the second- and third-tier producers mainly, or those, frankly, who bother to enter. A plethora of categories guarantee a producer will win in something, and then that producer
                                    will be able to use that "award" in their marketing. The awards don't mean much.

                                    The American Cheese Society award in 2006, in contrast, was a meaningful one -- and that was
                                    the award Cabot received for the clothbound Jasper Hill-aged cheddar that was a
                                    sizeable subthread here.

                                    So that you can check the results yourself, and so that chocolab38 can take a look at the Vermont producers who have ranked highly, here is a link to the "World" Championship Cheese Contest. The winners are listed for every category going back for at least 10 years.
                                    The world contest is held every other year, alternating with the US contest.

                                    Here is a link to the American Cheese Society winners, also with some great Vermont producers:

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      You are shifting bases, maria.

                                      "As far as being the makers of the World's Best Cheddar, as Cabot proudly touts, or that you have said, that's overstatement."

                                      "The World Competition of Cheese, where Cabot has won some awards.... Even so, not a single US entry has ranked in the top three since 2000.

                                      Not in the top three for "Best of Show" (Which is what the "World Champion" award is) but morgana was talking about cheddars, and US makers including Cabot have won the top awards in the CHEDDAR categories more often than not. To say a particular gruyere is a better cheese than a particular cheddar is meaningless, IMHO

                                      Cabot makes more than passable Cheddars, it makes great cheddars (as does McCAdam, I have to add).

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                        Let’s look at the facts, so that we're ACCURATE.

                                        RE: Cheddar:
                                        In 2008, at the “World” Competition of Cheese, Cabot won in the category of best medium cheddar.

                                        In the SIX OTHER CHEDDAR categories — Mild, Sharp (6 months to 1 year), Aged One to Two Years, Aged Two Years or Longer, Bandaged Cheddar (Mild to Medium), Bandaged Cheddar (Sharp) — CABOT WON NO AWARDS. Not even a second or a third place.

                                        This year, at the American Cheese Society competition, Cabot won second place in the mature cheddar category, second place in the cloth-wrapped cheddar aged under a year, and third place in the cloth-wrapped cheddar aged more than a year.

                                        That means in ALL EIGHT CHEDDAR CATEGORIES,
                                        OTHER cheddar cheeses -- NOT CABOT'S -- were ranked higher.

                                        If you like cheddar, you may be interested in finding out what they were.

                                        BY NO MEANS were ANY of Cabot’s cheddars rated the best in the world,
                                        or even the best in the nation, across many categories.

                                        To say otherwise is inaccurate.

                                        For Cabot or anyone else to make a claim that Cabot makes the world's best cheddar is not only inaccurate but ludicrous once you've tasted cheddars from around the world.

                                        However, the Cabot or the McAdam may be your FAVORITE cheddar. Or it may be your favorite of every cheddar that you've had the opportunity to taste so far. But that’s different.

                                        RE: American cheddars and other cheddars from other parts of the world:
                                        Cheddar originated in England. In fact, Cheddar is the name of a village in Somerset, England. The Somerset region produces some of the best cheddars in the world, as does England in general. Ireland makes beautiful cheddar as well.

                                        To get a good idea of the heights that cheddar can achieve, it’s a good idea to taste cheddars from as many locations — and from as many producers — as possible. The Somerset region is one of the nexus points in England for cheddar production. You could probably say Vermont and New York, and secondarily Oregon and California, are the United States nexus points.

                                        AN ACCURATE WORLD RANKING OF CHEDDAR cheese would evaluate the best cheddars from ALL the regions against one another.

                                        Neither the World Competition of Cheese or the American Cheese Society does this.

                                        RE: the “international” nature of the World Competition of Cheese, held in Wisconsin:
                                        Very few entries from countries other than the United States are entered. For this reason, this competition is not at all an international competition or a ranking of the best cheeses of the world. The word “World” as in World Competition or any award that designates a cheese as being the World’s Best is hyperbole, and inaccurate.

                                        In this so-called World Competition of Cheese, the cheese entries from countries other than United States have done quite well. No cheese from the United States has won any of the top three Best of Show awards since 2000.

                                        The Best of Show awards are given to cheeses of any type. They have usually already won in their individual categories. There was NO CONFUSION about mixing a gruyere with a cheddar.

                                      2. re: maria lorraine

                                        In preparation to an on line article on award-winning Vermont cheese makers, I have read this whole discussion. I am surprising that when discussing World competition noone mentioned the World Cheese Awards in Dublin where several Vermont cheese makers got awards. Vermont Butter & Cheese artisan goat cheeses got 5 awards and I am not seeing them discussed a lot here either... (I am not involved in their business... just noticing their success)... Personally, I will definitely try their goat cheeses...

                                        1. re: Vermont gourmet

                                          There is a simple answer to your query from at least one contributor here: I am not particularly an enthusiast of goat cheeses.

                                          Thus, what happens with VT Butter and Cheese is of limited interest to me.


                                          1. re: Vermont gourmet

                                            Ah yes, found the site.

                                            I see that Cabot Clothbound Cheddar took a Sliver medal in the Mature traditional Cheddar made after 01/09/07 category.

                                            1. re: rcianci

                                              Thanks vermont gourmet, and rcianci (for the link).

                                              Several Vermont cheesemakers won awards at the World Cheese Awards.
                                              Vermont Butter & cheese in Websterville won several awards.
                                              Cabot’s Silver award is noted below, as is Grafton’s.

                                              Vermon'ts winners in this and other contests listed here:

                                              A complete list of the U.S. winners at the Wolrd Cheese Awards is found here:

                                              Here are the categories of Cheddar at the World Cheese Awards – a pull-down menu leads you to the winners of each:

                                              29. Mature traditional cheddar made after 01/09/07

                                              ***This is the category where the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar by Cabot Creamery won a Silver.

                                              30. Mature block creamery cheddar made after 01/09/07
                                              31. Mature block farmhouse cheddar made after 01/09/07
                                              35. Medium traditional Cheddar made after 31/03/08
                                              36. Medium block creamery Cheddar made after 31/03/08
                                              37. Medium block farmhouse Cheddar made after 31/03/08
                                              38. Extra Mature traditional Cheddar made after 01/09/07
                                              39. Extra Mature creamery Cheddar made after 01/09/07

                                              ***Grafton Classic Reserve Cheddar won a Silver in this category. Made by Grafton Village Cheese Co. in Grafton, VT

                                              40. Extra mature block farmhouse Cheddar made after 01/09/07
                                              41. Mild Cheddar made after 31/05/07
                                              42. Vintage Farmhouse Cheddar made before 31/05/07
                                              43.Vintage creamery Cheddar made before 31/05/07

                                            2. re: Vermont gourmet

                                              If you like goats cheese, try Doe's Leap. It runs around $15 / lb for chevre and feta but I think it is second to none.

                                          2. re: Morganna

                                            Actually, Morganna, I was talking about whether Jasper's Hill's association with Cabot somehow threatened it's "artisan cred". I was not talking about you at all. Guess that needed to be explained, eh?

                                            1. re: rcianci

                                              Thought I saw my name in there. :) NP, sorry for contributing to confusion. :)

                                2. re: choco_lab38

                                  I don't think I've found a better US aged cheddar than Cabot's three year old (Quebec cheddars are another matter) and I say that as someone who is related to the cheese McCadam clan from way back when. I don't know anything about factory tours (though I had the run of the McCadam plant when I was a little nipper and it was still in Heuvelton, NY), but if it's the cheese you're seeking, bear in mind that some of the most earnest small enterprises may not care to put up with the sideshow of a tour. I'd suggest you look into the best retail shops for cheeses, including small VT producers as well as Quebec. It also might be useful to check with Murray;s Cheese in Manhattan, as they carry A bunch of VT cheeses from Grafton, Cobb Hill, Major, Taylor, VBC, etc. No sense in driving across half of VT for the same cheeses.

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                    Thanks. I'm not making the trip to Vermont exclusively for cheese (we're spending the weekend at a B&B we like)--I just thought I'd seek out some cheeses while I'm there. I know I could probably find the same cheeses in Manhattan or even through sites with online stores such as Formaggio Kitchen or Cowgirl Creamery. But as you probably know, nothing beats cheese fresh from the "terroir"--and I love driving through Vermont at any time of year--it's a beautiful state!
                                    I'm not looking for "factory tours" per se--I'd be more than satisfied with visiting the shop and having a few words from anyone who'd like to discuss their cheese. I do realize that many operations are even closed to the public, that's why I was asking for advice from anyone who might know of any that are open and worthy of a visit.

                                    1. re: choco_lab38

                                      I hear you. I grew up not far from the western shore of Lake Champlain, myself. I wish you some "easy wind and downy flake"* which is what makes VT beautiful this late in the year.

                                      God forbid you should pay Cowgirl's prices; it cost me >$20 for a 1-lb stick of Shelburne cheese at their San Francisco store, and I imagine mail order is even more pricey. "Fresh from the terroir," of course, is lost on me because I mostly go for aged cheeses (goat included -- try and find some Chevre Noire at a good price up there).

                                      *Penned by a famous native San Franciscan poet.

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                        Just want to clarify my statement --When I referred to "fresh from the terroir", I didn't mean it so literally, as in fresh cheese vs. aged cheese. I was referring to the fact that I'd be acquiring the cheese from the source, or "fresh" from the cave, rather than tasting a cheese that had been trucked 200 miles or more under variable conditions and/or stored in a refrigerator case for an undetermined amount of time, sliced and wrapped in cellophane.

                          2. We love the cheese from the Plymouth Cheese factory in Plymouth but I'm not sure that they are making cheese there all the time.
                            We used to love to visit there when Mr. Coolidge ran the place .
                            After he died the state took the place over and they didn't make a go of it.
                            Now I hear that they are letting the place out to another cheese operation.
                            Does anyone know more about all this?
                            I've gotten a lot of rumor lately about Plymouth cheese and we haven't been there since last summer.
                            Appreciative Catnip

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: catnip

                              Thanks Catnip! It looks like the Plymouth Factory you mentioned is now the home of Frog City Cheese--they have a website:
                              They claim to be making the cheese in the same style as the previous owners. Some interesting history there, as well.
                              If I make it up there, I'll let you know!

                              1. re: choco_lab38

                                I hope what was the Plymouth factory is open when you go, the "stirred curds" method is something you probably won't see anywhere else. And it's good cheese!

                                Did you see the Smithsonian magazine article on the Grafton cheesemaker some years ago, it's a good read. He keeps some very old cheese in the back for staff only, even the reporter couldn't get a piece of that, the conversation went something like; Reporter: "I'll bet that (15-yr old cheddar) is good!" Cheesemaker: "It is."

                                1. re: MsDiPesto

                                  Thanks Ms. DiPesto (I love your user name! Are you also a fan of Moonlighting?)
                                  The article you're referring to sounds very interesting! I'll have to see if I can track it down. Aged 15 years...yummy!!

                            2. I've never been to Shelburne Farms, but their cheddar is superb. I buy it at a steep price out here in California even though I'm a NY cheddar loyalist.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Xiao Yang

                                Shelburne Farms is a great tour, and a huge place, and there's a lot going on. Though it's also a little costly, sometimes. I think that even if it were as close to us as Cabot, we'd still take out-of-towners to Cabot Creamery instead. ;)

                                1. re: Morganna

                                  I really like the cheddar from Shelburne Farms. If you go to their farm store, you can buy the cheese in big blocks, which takes the cost down a bit. On an unrelated note - they also sell a fantastic Honey Mustard.

                                  1. re: foodieface

                                    I second the Shelburne Farms Farmhouse Cheddar. I'll just have to find a reasonable source (at least more reasonable that the Cowgirl Creamery store.

                              2. Not too far from Newfane is the Vermont Shepherd cheese company. They are a part of the Putney Crafts Tour that happens every Thanksgiving Weekend, so they'll definitely be open. The two websites are:


                                My SO and I go every year to the craft tour. There are so many artists to see. Its amazing. My favorite place to eat while artist hopping is the soup kitchen at the Westminster West church. For $5 you get a big bowl of soup and cornbread or roll, and the soups are delicious (West African Peanut, Chili, tons of options that change each day). The tour is free and there's a map on the crafts tour website.

                                41 Replies
                                1. re: Bri

                                  Thanks Bri!
                                  I'll definitely be checking out Vermont Shepherd and the Craft Tour sounds/looks amazing! I'm so sad we're not going a week earlier :( Maybe we can get accomodations for that weekend next year. Seems like it would be a fun time!

                                  1. re: choco_lab38

                                    I'd also recommend visiting Cindy Major of Vermont Shepherd. Her Farmhouse Cheese is a seasonal hard-rind cheese, deeply nutty, buttery and undoubtedly world-class. Its flavor comes from the great milk and five different “molds,” each of which provide a layer of flavor.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      choco, keep in mind that VT Shepherd is not a cow cheese....if you're okay with that, no problem....but I'll admit that I'm a much bigger fan of cow cheese than goat or sheep cheese.

                                      Amidst all the debate about Cabot is the overlooked fact that you said you were looking for varieties OTHER than cheddar to explore, a fact that the Cabot advocates apparently chose to ignore. The debaters apparently don't want to pay attention to your original requests, and push their agendas on you. I apologize for that.

                                      Cabot makes some terrific aged cheddar, and a few other cheese types that are not cheddar....but what's available in their Quechee and Waterbury outlet stores that you can't routinely purchase in supermarkets tends to be some exotic "flavored" cheddars, i.e., various added things like herbs or other flavorings. These can be fun, but the reality is that those "flavored" cheeses are very young cheeses that have stuff added to them. It is the cheese equivalent, IMHO, of Beaujolais Nouveau wine each November from France: fun to consume, but nothing you want to take very seriously.

                                      1. re: signothetimes53

                                        I do not know if they give tours but The Vermont Butter and Cheese Company makes some of the most delicious atrisinal cheeses I've ever eaten. Their cheeses are anything BUT cheddar, all very unique and divine. I would definitely call them.

                                        1. re: signothetimes53

                                          Read the OP's post again, Signo: choco_lab38 said "INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO cheddar types" (emphasis mine).. Nobody's pushing an unwanted agenda. here.

                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                            The OP also said "I'd like to visit a creamery that makes quality, perhaps award-winning cheese that may not be available at my local supermarket in NJ (as Grafton and Cabot are). " She posts saying she doesn't want to go to Cabot, and when people suggest Cabot and she reiterates that she doesn't want to go to Cabot and gets people telling her she should go to Cabot- well that sounds like agenda-pushing even if that's not what is intended.

                                            I don't know if they offer tours but one of my absolute favorite Vermont cheeses is Jasper Hill's Constant Bliss. It's worth inquiring about

                                            Even if it's not open to the public, load up your suitcase for holiday gifts- this is really great stuff, and I'd bet their other cheeses are too.

                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                              My responses were not to the OP, but to other people who were shouting down my original suggestion, which was well within the boundaries of the original request. I'm bowing out now. Have fun coming to Vermont, and I hope you find some nice cheeses.

                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                Jasper Hill mostly exists to age cheeses made by Cabot, and is partly a porkbarrel project, as well.


                                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                  I beg your pardon? Jasper Hill makes a large number of fine and extremely funky cheeses - like the triple creme style Constant Bliss and the fabulously weird Winnowmere, wrapped in brich bark! I wasn't even aware that JH ages cheeses for Cabot - and if they do, is there something wrong with that? To call it "partly a pork-barrel project" is practically libellous. I've got no problem with anyone mentioning some of their favorite cheeses, but knocking down others' favorites is really unnecessary.

                                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                    That's absurd, Jasper Hill certainly does not exist just to age cheese made by Cabot. As their website clearly explains, they've been making their own excellent and acclaimed cheeses since 2004, 3 years before that link you point to.

                                                    If they have extra capacity and can take on piece-work from Cabot to supplement their income, more power to them, but that doesn't take away from what they do under their own brand. Gary, have you been to Vermont? If you are basing your knowledge of the Vermont dairy scene based on what you can buy in your markets there in San Francisco and what you can Google about them, you're seeing a narrow part of the entire Vermont cheese scene. Yes, there are large companies such as Cabot that account for much of the state's output, but that doesn't take away from the thriving small-producer cheeses, even if some of those small producers are creating partnerships with the larger brands for small sections of their product line.

                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                      Chris, I probably viisted Vermont long before you were born. I spent the frist 18 year of my life near the NY/ON/PQ border, about 75 miles from VT as the crow flies. I am also related to the McCadam Cheese family (McCAdam and Cabolt have, or had, joint marketing and distribution agreements) and my grandfather was a farmer who sold milk to a dairy cooperative.

                                                      No, I don't know every small cheese producer in VT or California (where I've lived for the past 46 years), for that matter, but I'm not one who believes that a neophyte with high ideals and good intentions but who learned cheesemaking yesterday automatically puts out a more worthy product than a company who perfected the skill decades before. I can't be everywhere to check everything out (and I have more interests in my life besides cheese) so I'll wait for the judgement of the industry before I plunk down $20-$30/lb. for an unknown product

                                                      Cabot's joint venture with Jasper Hill goes back at least until 2005 . I'd count myself a fool if I didn't believe that Cabot's investment in Jasper Hill Farm helped get its artisanal cheese business off the ground. The article I linked was about the allocation of taxpayers' money to EXPAND the capacity to store and age the cheese.

                                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                        Gary it seems you've got a bee in your bonnet about this issue and I"m not sure who put it there, because this discussion was never about what cheese is better or whether new artisan cheesemakers can do what they do better than longtime established cheesemakers. It's about what cheesemakers should merit a visit when one goes to Vermont and wants to visit a creamery that produces cheese not available in the average supermarket. And Cabot just doesn't fit that criteria.

                                                        You also stated that Jasper Hill is mostly a place where Cabot ages their cheeses and that's not true, so out of respect for the cheesemakers there who have put their heart and soul into their product, I hope you can admit that's an incorrect statement.

                                                        I like Cabot, I've got some wax-sealed aged cheddar in my fridge right now, in fact. Personal taste is not something one could debate but all I can tell you is that I'd recommend you get yourself down to one of the retailers that sell it locally to you ( and try some Jasper Hill for yourself. I didn't think Chowhounds were the type of people who wanted to wait until they had the judgement of the industry before they risked a taste of a non-sanctioned food, but if you'd prefer to wait for that, it's your loss.

                                                        1. re: Chris VR

                                                          Well, as a retiree dependent on Social Security and a sad sack 401k for income, I'm not going to be the one to take one for the team at $30 the lb. to vet an unknown product unless I can taste it first. I have been known to blow that much on local cheeses, even a goat cheese (a Tomme de Chevre) but only after sampling them.

                                                          If Rainbow can come up with a sample I might take a flyer there (especially with my Senior Citizen discount!), because I'm not likely to get to any of those other California locations (including "St. Alameda") but I have the impression that Jasper Hill's house products are mostly soft cheeses which I'm not particularly into. I also doubt that they would be willing to open one of those little nuggets of Constant Bliss that seem to be the cheese JH stakes its reputation on. (Hate that name -- was it inspired by Constant Comment?)

                                                          And don't forget that the original post projected as much interest in tours as in the cheese itself, and I would think that the bigger, stabler producers have a marketing budget for that kind of thing whereas the small "artisan" producers don't, and don't have much to display for public consumption in the first place.

                                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                            I bought some Constant Bliss a few weeks ago. The aroma of ammonia was so strong it was disgusting. I questioned the store and they said that was part of the character of that cheese. I disagree as I have ha it before and do not recall that rank scent. If anyone finds ammonia a pleasant aroma, I'd like to know.

                                                            1. re: TonyO

                                                              No way, ammonia is not a smell I'd associate with that cheese.

                                                              1. re: TonyO

                                                                That store obviously was trying to blow smoke by you.

                                                                A cheese with that kind of "aroma"?!? That's a cheese that's been seriously mis-handled somewhere in the production-to-market chain.

                                                                1. re: signothetimes53

                                                                  QC is often a problem with artisanal cheese makers trying to push the envelope. One prize-winning California goat cheese maker let out a batch with some nasty (and dangerous) microorganisms and ended up changing the company's name to disassociate themselves from their own bad publicity.

                                                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                    There was a western Massachusetts cheesemaker who'd won a bunch of awards who had listeria in some batches a couple years ago....and rather than take responsibility for some serious errors he'd made in his operations, he tried to blame the government regulators, saying they were trying to persecute cheesemakers who used unpasteurized milk. It was total nonsense, the only thing regulators want is a safe product, and his was not safe. There are plenty of unpasteurized cheese products out there that are safe....but his wasn't one of them at the time.

                                                                    1. re: signothetimes53

                                                                      did this person sell locally/regionally/nationally? supermarket? mail order? i wonder if a cheesemaker feels less obliged to own up when the customers aren't, by any stretch of the imagination, their neighbors...

                                                                      1. re: sneakyj

                                                                        Read about it here, from the NY Times:


                                                                        Fortunately, this guy cleaned up his act since that time.

                                                                2. re: TonyO

                                                                  TonyO--This is exactly why I'm looking forward to going straight to the source to sample the cheeses! Even retailers with supposed great reputations for their cheese selection have sold me specimens that obviously were not stored correctly or were allowed to sit way too long after cutting.

                                                                3. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                  From the Jasper Hill website, explaining the name "Constant Bliss":

                                                                  Named for a revolutionary war scout killed in Greensboro by native Americans in 1781. He was guarding the Bayley Hazen Military Road with his compatriot Moses Sleeper, who died with him.

                                                                  1. re: choco_lab38

                                                                    Maybe an ancestor of P.P. Bliss, victim of the Ashtabula Bridge Disaster.


                                                                    P.P. Bliss would be a better name for a "barnyardy" cheese like CB.

                                                                    If the Native Americans were from the Kanien'kehaka, it might have been one of my ancesters that did them in ;-)

                                                                4. re: Chris VR

                                                                  Thanks for pointing me to Rainbow as a reasonable source for cheeses. I picked up a 5 oz nub of Jasper Hill Constant Bliss for $8.99 (before my Oldster discount) compared to Murray's on-line price of $13.00 and a 3.5 oz sliver of Vermont Shepherd @ $28.99/lb (about half of Murray's price). I haven't cracked open the JH yet, but nibbled on the VT Shepherd (a little too smoothed out for my tastes.

                                                                  Also picked up a lower-priced cheese from Georgia called Hopeful Tomme which I'm hopeful will taste like a Tomme de Chevre though it's a mixed milk cheese.

                                                                5. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                  Cabot gives a small percentage of it's cheddar to Jasper Hill to age in cloth the old fashioned way. This cloth-aged cheddar is VERY different in character from Cabot's mass market product. Think of it as a mutually beneficial relationship, an infusion of capital for Jasper Hill and an opportunity for Cabot to have a product for the artisan cheese market. But Jasper Hill existed and was producing fine cheeses before this arrangement was struck with Cabot. To say they exist as Cabot's aging room is to misconstrue the nature of the business relationship and the product itself.

                                                                  1. re: rcianci

                                                                    From an article Friday in the San Francisco Chronicle about the award-winning Cabot cheddar aged at Jasper Hill:

                                                                    "With about 1,400 farmer members, Cabot Creamery produces millions of pounds of waxed supermarket cheddar every year. But five years ago, the giant co-op approached the two young brothers who run the tiny Jasper Hill Farm about collaborating. The Kehlers and their wives milk about 40 Ayrshire cows and make minuscule amounts of raw-milk cheese - notably, Bayley Hazen Blue and Constant Bliss - by hand. Cabot wanted to make a traditional clothbound cheddar but didn't have the proper environment to mature it.

                                                                    Unlike Cabot's mainstream cheddars, which are made in 40-pound rindless blocks, aged in sealed plastic bags and then cut in smaller blocks and wax-dipped before sale, the clothbound cheddar relies on mold to mature it. When they are 5 days old, the young cheesecloth-wrapped wheels are moved from Cabot to the nearby cellars at Jasper Hill, in Greensboro. There they are rubbed with lard to encourage molds to colonize the surface and set on spruce shelves. Mateo Kehler tends the cheeses for about a year, turning them, brushing them and nurturing the development of a hard, mold-covered rind. Over time, the surface molds consume the lard, so there is no trace of it on the finished cheese.

                                                                    For the 35-pound clothbound cheddars, Cabot uses the milk from a single farm, a step that Kehler insisted on to maximize control of milk quality. The recipe departs from the method employed for traditional English Cheddars in several respects, including the use of pasteurized milk, but the results are similar. The slow aerobic aging yields powerful aromas of mown grass and hay, nuts, toffee and candle wax, a complex and seductive fragrance. On the tongue, the cheese is creamy yet crumbly, sometimes a little waxy, but always exceptionally mellow. The taste is sweeter than comparable English Cheddars, such as Montgomery's, with none of the acid bite that some consumers dislike. The flavors are rich, profound and resolved.

                                                                    Determined to make Jasper Hill a model of economically viable dairy farming and to promote artisan cheesemaking in their state, the Kehler brothers have recently dug extensive caves on their property. In these large underground vaults, which I visited recently, they plan to mature not only their own cheeses but those of their Vermont competitors. By investing in this expensive facility and mastering the art of affinage, or cheese aging, they are providing a service that promises to keep their state in the forefront of artisan cheesemaking."


                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        Great article. Ed Behr's Art of Eating magazine covered most of this last year. Glad to hear they're succeeding and extending their affinage program.

                                                                  2. re: Chris VR

                                                                    I would love to get to Jasper Hill , but I think it may be too far north (152 miles from Newfane according to mapquest)? It might be too long a hike for this weekend trip. I'm now determined to plan another trip so that I can investigate Northern VT (we've rarely ventured north of Woodstock or Rutland and I know I'm missing out on a lot)
                                                                    Thank you for understanding exactly what I'm after here!
                                                                    I seem to have created quite a stir , but my sincere thanks to everyone for their suggestions!

                                                              2. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                If I may expound on my true intentions...
                                                                I said "Including, but not limited to cheddar" because I figured people might assume that I was talking cheddar only--It is, if I'm not mistaken, the predominent cheese type in VT?
                                                                I meant that I'd accept recos for cheddar producers--but I didn't want recos to be limited to cheddar producers. THAT is what I meant.
                                                                The only thing unwanted is my being painted as some sort of hoity toity cheese snob who thinks she's too good to go to a Cabot factory tour, and the insinuation that anyone who prefers an "artisanal" cheese is just a follower of fashion and would eat smelly socks if they were told it was the next great thing.
                                                                I've been eating smelly, runny, mouldy cheeses since I was a tot, when I'd devour wedges of aged provolone and gorgonzola until my lips were white!

                                                                1. re: choco_lab38

                                                                  Thanks, chocolab! I thought I was going to be the only one to note that the "ammonia" (and it may actually BE ammonia!) is undoubtedly not appealing to some, but it is absolutely a characteristic of unpasteurized cheeses. It's not called "stinky cheese" for nothing! If someone doesn't like that, that's fine, but I'd rather they didn't tell me what I may and may not like.
                                                                  Honestly, JH appears to be criticized by some for being too corporate and by other for being too funky. It's an intersting world.

                                                                  1. re: sophie fox

                                                                    In the food industry as well as in politics, I guess you are judged by whom you "pal around" with. I'm wondering if Jasper Hill's association with Cabot gives them access to distribution channels that other small producers cannot tap; I was amazed by the fact that Jasper Hill lists 13 locations in California to buy their cheese from, including places like Whole Foods and Rainbow Grocery that are not cheese specialists per se (though they have robust cheese departments).

                                                                    1. re: sophie fox

                                                                      <<I thought I was going to be the only one to note that the "ammonia" (and it may actually BE ammonia!) is undoubtedly not appealing to some, but it is absolutely a characteristic of unpasteurized cheeses. >>

                                                                      No. The ammonia smell has nothing to do with pasteurization, or the lack of it.

                                                                      The ammonia smell is caused by the two molds that make Brie and Camembert cheeses: geotrichum candidum and Penicillium camemberti.

                                                                      G. candidum is the major culprit.

                                                                      Ammonia occurs naturally as Brie or Camembert ages and the proteins break down. Even though ammonia is a natural occurence with these cheeses, when you smell it, it indicates a storage problem -- that the cheese has not been allowed enough air so that the ammonia smell could dissipate.

                                                                      Thankfully, even when you can smell it, you usually can't taste it.

                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        Thanks for the clarification. I'm still not sure that I'd call the whiff of ammonia a "storage problem" - unless that "problem" is a common occurence in these types of cheeses.

                                                                        1. re: sophie fox

                                                                          Yes, the ammonia smell is common, even desirable, up to a point.

                                                                          These cheeses need air as they age, and they don't get it, for example, if they're wrapped in plastic. A small amount of ammonia is an indication of *proper* aging, along with the change in the rind from fluffy and white to flatter and ivory/beige in color.

                                                                          Some strains of geotrichum candidum produce very powerful ammonia smells, and this is considered to be an individual and even desirable cheese characteristic. This is when stinky is good.

                                                                          But sometimes stinky is just stinky, and it means the cheese is too old and too broken down.

                                                                2. re: signothetimes53

                                                                  Thanks signothetimes53, for truly understanding what I'm looking for! And thanks for clarifying the types that are available at the Cabot outlet stores. At the risk of further alienating myself from the Caboteurs, I have to say that I'm not a big fan of flavored cheddars (for the exact reasons you mentioned).
                                                                  That being said, I do enjoy --and often purchase--Cabot's aged cheddars. (That was one of the points Morganna must have missed). But that's just it...I KNOW it. And it's a very consistent product BECAUSE it's a cooperative of dairy farmers--as advertised in their TV commercial. I'm looking for the dairy farm that makes their own cheese and knows the cows/sheep/goats intimately and what they're eating (and doesn't have the money to advertise in the NY metro market). If that makes me seem like a snob, so be it! When did it become un-American to support the small farmer and artisan? All I can say is, Wow!
                                                                  BTW, I'm excited that Vermont Shepherd makes sheep's milk cheese, as I do enjoy sheep's milk cheese very much (I'm a Manchego addict)

                                                                  1. re: choco_lab38

                                                                    One thing I really, really love is the Vermont Shepherd cheese with a French cherry preserve on top. And, luckily, the farm store sells jars of it (and usually has samples of both). Its one of my favorite combinations ever.

                                                                    Also, the Grafton cheese company is now based in Brattleboro (or at least a large production of it). There have been several articles about their move and the production of cheddar at the new facility in the Brattleboro Reformer. And I got the impression that they were doing tours at the Brattleboro location. The Grafton Jack is my favorite cow's milk jack cheese. I hope I'm remembering that correctly; it came wrapped in black wax.

                                                                    I'm also a huge fan of a local Goat Gouda but the name is completely escaping me right now.

                                                                    The bottom line is there are definitely some amazing cheeses in VT; enough to produce a "cheese trail" and website and garner some awards along the way. Young or old, in business for generations or newly trained means nothing to me, only how well the cheese is made and how well I like it. Some of these "newbies" are making award-winning cheeses, so I think its quite dismissive to form any opinion, but especially a negative one if you haven't set foot in VT in over 40 years and haven't tried any of these cheeses.

                                                                    Any reading about VT's localvore movement will tell you that what it is today is quite phenomenal and has really only come into its own in the last 20 years. And a lot of it is because of these new farms, new cheesemakers, etc. So anyone who hasn't experienced VT's bounty first-hand and recently, really has no idea what's happened/happening here as far as artisinal food products.

                                                                    Obviously, that last bit is not directed at you Choco. Happy travels and good eats!

                                                                    1. re: Bri

                                                                      I was at the opening of the new Grafton facility in Brattleboro at the Retreat Farm (rt 30). It is big, gleaming, state of the art (very interesting if you don't know much about cheese making processes), and they have a store. It is wonderful for the neighborhood!

                                                                    2. re: choco_lab38

                                                                      At the risk of being accused of pushing my cheddar agenda more... ;D

                                                                      I wasn't thinking of flavoured cheddars when I said there were things available at the Cabot factory you can't get anywhere else. I was thinking of their line of greek yogurts and their cultured butters. There's another butter they have, I can't remember exactly what it was about it, but they only sell it at the factory store (or at least as of this last August it was only there) because they only produce enough of it to supply there. I'm pretty sure it wasn't "just" cultured butter. I bought some and had it one some Red Hen seed baguette, and it was just a slice of heaven. :)

                                                                      Anyway, I do understand you're not so much looking for the factory experience and I do hope you'll come back after your trip and update us on what you did/saw/sampled so we can live vicariously through your experience. :)

                                                                  2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                    Also keep in mind that Major Farm Vermont Shepherd is available at Murray's in NY (albeit at $30/lb)

                                                                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                      I'll take a drive to VT over a drive into Manhattan anyday, but thanks!