Artisan Cheesemakers open for visits in Twin Cities Area?
I'm heading back to the Twin Cities this July (21-28) to visit family and am hoping I can get a recommendation. I'm looking for any farms that do artisan cheese making that are open for visitors. Can anyone give some recommendations? I recently finished a cheese certificate course out in my current hometown of Boston and make my own cheese on an amateur level so I'd love to visit some farms when home in MN. Willing to do a little driving but would prefer something within 1 1/2 hours from Saint Paul.
I would recommend calling two places, that are both within your distance preferences and are both artisan and are open for tours.
1) Shepherd's Way Farms: www.shepherdswayfarms.com
They make several kinds of sheep milk cheese, and are continuing to work valiantly to rebuild after a fire in early 2005. Steven and Jodi Read and their four boys have a fantastic operation (their cheese is sold in some local places, and they bring it themselves to the Mill City Farmers Market), and are open to visitors, especially if you contact them in advance.
2) Faribault Dairy: www.faribaultdairy.com
Artisan and excellent blue cheese, they are also using their caves to age other cheesemakers' products. Jeff Jirik is the guy who can teach you more than you ever thought you wanted to know about cheese. You might be able to see some of their workings, if you ask nicely and explain your level of interest.
Bass Lake cheese is also a good option, and has more of a store than the other two. www.blcheese.com Scott and Julie Erickson run this operation, and you can look through the glass at their process. Scott is usually done making cheese by 10 or 11 am, so I would call in advance to check their schedule and make sure it's a "make day."