There's no better way to learn about cheese than by seeing it made at a farmstead cheese operation
Visit one near you for a fun and enlightening day trip.
There's no better way to learn about cheese than by seeing itmade, and there's no better place to see it made than a farmsteadcheese operation. "Farmstead" means that the cheese is made righton the premises, using the fresh milk of the animals raised there― so you get to see the cheese created from the grass up, soto speak. (Most cheesemakers don't keep animals. Instead, they buytheir milk from dairy farms.) Farmstead cheesemaking is a long andhallowed European tradition that has had a recent resurgence, andnow there are dozens of farmstead cheesemakers all over the West.An hour or so at the farm is great fun for the kids because it'spart petting zoo, part science show, and part snack time (tastingsare usually included, and you can buy the cheeses for hometoo).
Here's a list of farmstead cheesemakers open for visits.(Farmstead cheesemakers, if your name isn't on our list and you'reopen to the public, let us know!)
Cranberry Ridge Farm Of her goats, Rhonda Shaul, who ownsthe farm with husband Matt, says, "We have a variety of breeds,just because we like to look at different colors and shapes. TheSwiss breeds seem to be the hardiest here in Alaska." The farmproduces goat's-milk cheddar and feta.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); Wasilla,AK (email for directions); email@example.com (emailorders).
Black Mesa Ranch In March through December, the ranch hosts an open house onthe third Saturday of every month; there are special holiday openhouses between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It also offers seminarsand workshops (half-day to three days; from $75) on cheesemakingand goat-raising. And there's lodging (from $150 per person,including meals) on this 280-acre "off-grid" ranch, which gets mostof its power from solar and wind energy. Fresh chèvre, feta,and a mozzarella-like boule are the three most popular cheeses fromthe milk of the farm's Nubian goats. Black Mesa also has organicgardens, a variety of interesting poultry, and heritage-breedcattle.
INFO: Store hours and tours (free; children welcome) 10-3 onopen-house days; Snowflake, AZ (call for directions); 920/536-7759(Web and phone orders).
Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan Goat's-milk cheeses (both soft-ripened and aged) in 20varieties, including brie, cheddar, and parmesan.
INFO: Tours Mon-Sat Mar-Dec, $3.50 U.S. per person, childrenfree, book one week in advance; store open daily May 1-Oct 15; 170Timberline Rd., Kelowna, B.C.; 250/870-3117 (Web and phone ordersfor Canada only).
"D" Dutchmen Dairy A variety of cow's-milk cheeses, including its well-knowncheddar; also makes ice cream.
INFO: Self-guided tours daily (free; children welcome); storeopen daily; 1321 Maeir Rd., Sicamous, B.C.; 250/836-4304 (phoneorders).
The Farm House Natural Cheeses Cheddar, gouda, and goat's-milk cheeses, as well as butter.
INFO: Group tours by appointment May 1-Oct 31 ($8.50 U.S. perperson, minimum 7 people; children welcome), drop-in tours 3 p.m.Sat May 19-Sep 1 ($8.50 U.S. per person; children welcome); storeopen daily; 5634 McCallum Rd., Agassiz, B.C.; 604/796-8741 (phoneorders for Canada only).
Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm Cow's-milk gouda, as well as yogurt and quark (a soft creamcheese with a tangy flavor).
INFO: Tours (free; children welcome) 10 a.m. Tue-Wed and Fri,other times by appointment; store open Mon-Sat; 1470 50th St. S.W.,Salmon Arm, B.C.; 250/832-4274 (Web and phone orders for Canadaonly).
Jerseyland Organics Organic cow's-milk gouda, cheddar, and yogurt.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); storeopen daily; 2690 Almond Gardens Rd., Grand Forks, B.C.;250/442-8112 (Web and phone orders).
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks Cow's-milk brie and other soft-ripened varieties as well asSwiss-style cheese, including raclette. The farm also has a KritterKorner with baby goats and miniature horses, as well as a lovelypondside picnic area with spectacular views of Mt. Arrowsmith.Watch cheese curd being made Thursday afternoons and Monday throughSaturday May through Sep.
INFO: Self-guided tours (free; children welcome) and guidedtours (by appointment; $4.25 U.S. per person, minimum 8 people;children welcome); store open Mon-Sat Sep-Jun, daily Jul-Aug; 403Lowry's Rd., Parksville, B.C.; 250/954-3931 (phone orders for B.C.only).
Moonstruck Organic Cheese Certified organic cow's-milk cheeses, including Blossom Blue,Beddis Blue, and an ash-ripened camembert.
INFO: Tours (free; children welcome); during store hoursMay-Oct, by appointment during the rest of year; store openSun-Fri; 1306 Beddis Rd., Salt Spring Island, B.C.; 250/537-4987(Web and phone orders for Canada only).
The Village Cheese Co. Highlights include large viewing windows, a 20-minute video oncheesemaking, cheese tasting, and live piano music. Award-winningcow's-milk cheddar, plus feta, flavored cheeses, and spreadablecheeses.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); storeopen daily; 3475 Smith Dr., Armstrong, B.C.; 250/546-8651 (Weborders).
Bubalus Bubalis A herd of approximately 260 water buffalo produces freshmozzarella di bufala and ricotta.
INFO: Spring farm tours by appointment (free; childrenwelcome); 7095 LaPorte Rd., Bangor, CA; 530/679-0916 (Web and phoneorders).
Redwood Hill Farm Goat's-milk cheeses, including feta, chèvre,camembert-like Camellia, Bucheret (like bucheron), and CaliforniaCrottin, as well as goat's-milk yogurt.
INFO: Annual spring farm tours (free; children welcome) 10a.m.-12 p.m. Apr 21-22, May 12-13, Jun 2-3, 2007; 2064 State 116N., Building 1, Suite 130, Sebastopol, CA; 707/823-8250 (Web andphone orders).
Rinconada Dairy Corsican-style aged sheep's-milk cheeses and Chaparral, anaged sheep-goat blend.
INFO: Farm stays from $150 per night; tours by appointment(free; children welcome); 4680 W. Pozo Rd., Santa Margarita, CA;805/438-5667 (phone orders for whole wheels).
Winchester Cheese Company Cow's-milk gouda made according to an old Dutch recipe, plusseveral flavored goudas (the cumin seed is our favorite). Thecheery shop carries all kinds of goodies from Holland in additionto cheese, like pungent black licorice, chewy ginger cakes, a dozendifferent kinds of cookies, and much more.
INFO: Call ahead to reserve a spot on the group tour, whichincludes a cheese tasting, or just stop by when you're in the areato visit the shop or watch cheesemaking through the windows (free;times vary but generally 9-1:30 Tue-Fri; call ahead). Group tour 10a.m. Wed and Thu; ($125 per 25 people; children welcome); shop open9-5 Mon-Fri and 10-4 Sat-Sun; 32605 Holland Rd., Winchester, CA;951/926-4239 (Web and phone orders).
Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy Haystack sells a dozen different delicious goat cheeses, fromsoft fresh chèvres to marinated medallions to smooth, hardaged rounds. The goats are adorable and all have names.
INFO: Group guided tours include cheese tasting. You can takea self-guided tour twice a week. Group guided tours by appointment($50 per 15 people; children welcome), self-guided tours 12-2 Tueand Sat (free; children welcome; typically no cheesemaking on Sat);cheese sales 12-2 Tue and Sat; 5239 Niwot Rd., Niwot, CO;720/494-8714 (Web and phone orders).
James Ranch Artisan Cheese Raw Jersey cow's-milk cheeses, including a cheddar-goudacross; cheese is only made when the cows are eating grass(mid-April through mid-November). On your visit, observecheesemaking through a viewing window (call ahead for cheesemakingschedule) and, of course, the animals. There are terraced lawnsbelow the cheese room and farmstand for picnicking (bring your ownbread and drinks).
INFO: Farmstand open 1-4:30 Sat Nov-May, 10-4 Mon-FriJun-Oct; 33846 U.S. 550, Durango, CO; firstname.lastname@example.org,or 970/385-9143 (phone and email orders for whole andhalf-wheels).
Roubideau Farm-to-You Joe and Corinne Coniglio and theirfamily handcraft raw goat's-milk cheeses in the French style,including blue cheese, cabécou, camembert, chèvre, andtomme. The house specialty is a goat's-milk sage cheddar. Tastingsare offered in the farm kitchen, and all the cheeses can bepurchased on-site. Joe makes a terrific nitrate-free chicken-liverpâté too.
INFO: Tours 11-5 Sat May-Oct (free; children welcome; callahead); 3249 1600 Rd. (off U.S. 50), Delta, CO; email@example.com or970/874-3305 (phone and email orders).
Kaua'i Kunana Dairy Makes goat's-milk cheeses, some flavored with tropical fruit.Also sells goat's-milk soap, lotion, and shampoo. Best time tovisit is late fall and spring, when the newborn goats arefrolicking.
INFO: Visiting children ages 2 and up can bottle-feed thebabies (call for details). Farm tours by appointment ($5 perperson, minimum 5 people; children welcome); 4552 Kapuna Rd.,Kilauea, HI; 808/828-0095 (Web and phone orders).
Surfing Goat Dairy Inventively flavored chèvre, including some with blacktruffles and 24-karat gold leaf, as well as cheesecake,chocolate-dipped goat-cheese truffles, lilikoi quark, andgoat's-milk soap.
INFO: Farm shop and tours 10-5 Mon-Sat, 10-2 Sun; call fordetails on casual tours ($5 per person, minimum 3 people; childrenwelcome), "chores" tour ($10 per person; includes hands-on milkingand feeding; children welcome), and grand tour ($25 per person;includes cheese tasting; children welcome); 3651 Omaopio Rd., Kula,HI; 808/878-2870 (Web and phone orders).
Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese Jersey cow's-milk cheeses, including seven kinds of fun-to-eatsqueaky cheese curds plus award-winning pepper cheddar and adouble-cream called Danish Pearl. Ask about bottle-feeding thecalves.
INFO: Tours by appointment ($2.50 per person; childrenwelcome); 1764 South 2100 East, Gooding, ID; or 208/934-4972 (Weband phone orders).
Fraga Farm Goat Cheese Jan and Larry Neilson run the only certified-organic goatdairy in the state, raising Nubians and Alpines. Their aged rawfeta won a blue ribbon at the 2006 American Cheese Societycompetition.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); 28580Pleasant Valley Rd., Sweet Home, OR; 541/367-3891 (phoneorders).
Rivers Edge Chèvre Pat Morford and family raise Alpine goats and a few mixed EastFriesian dairy sheep. Specialties include fresh-smoked chèvrewrapped in bourbon-misted smoked maple leaves and an ash-coatedaged cheese with a streak of Spanish pimenton. Ask aboutcheesemaking workshops.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); 6315Logsden Rd., Logsden, OR; 541/444-1362 (phone orders).
Tumalo Farms Owner Flavio DeCastilhos gives a thorough tour, starting withanimal well-being. The French Alpine and Swiss Saanen goat milkgoes into the intriguingly named Pondhopper, Classico, andCapricorns cheeses (the first two have won top honors from theAmerican Cheese Society).
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); 64515Mock Rd., Bend, OR; 541/350-3718 (Web and phone orders).
Willamette Valley Cheese Jersey and Holstein cows on organic pastures, right in themiddle of gorgeous wine country. Another award-winning cheesemaker,producing aged gouda, Brindisi fontina (an Italian-style agedcheese), and Perrydale (cow's milk blended with a bit of sheep'smilk from a local dairy).
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); 8105Wallace Rd. N.W., Salem, OR; 503/399-9806 (Web and phoneorders).
Rockhill Creamery "Hearty cheese from hardy cows" is the motto of this farm,which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. PeteSchropp and Jennifer Hines milk five big Brown Swiss cows and makeedam, gruyère, gouda, and feta ― all from raw milk, allaged at least 60 days.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome; no cheesemade on Sat); farmstand open Sat 11-4 Apr-Oct, call to verify; 563S. State St., Richmond, UT; 435/258-1278 (Web and phoneorders).
Alpine Lakes Sheep Cheese Sheep's-milk cheeses such as aged Mountain Tomme availableyear-round; several seasonally available soft-ripened cheeses,including a blue and a camembert.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome);Leavenworth, WA (call for directions); 509/548-5786 (Web and phoneorders).
Appel Farms Cow's-milk cheddar, feta, fromage blanc, gouda, paneer, andquark. The best time to visit is Friday afternoon, when freshcheddar curds are made.
INFO: Tours 9-6 Mon-Sat (free; children welcome; largergroups by appointment); store open Mon-Sat; 6605 Northwest Rd.,Ferndale, WA; 360/312-1431.
Black Sheep Creamery The farm is known for its Black Sheep Tomme and Mopsy's Best,both aged cheeses, but it also offers feta and seasonal fresh,spreadable herb-flavored cheeses. Spring is an especially nice timeto visit because that's when you'll see an adorable batch ofnewborn lambs.
INFO: Tours by appointment (free; children welcome); 345Bunker Creek Rd., Chehalis, WA; 360/520-3397 (phone orders).