Maple syrup may be Vermont’s best-known product among the general public, but for years those in the dairy industry have watched the state’s meteoric rise as one of the very best cheese producers on earth – and we have some of the best and best kept secrets in our store! Vermont cheddars, the cornerstone of the state’s cheese making history, have repeatedly beaten the best cheddars of other top cheese producing states like Wisconsin, along with the birthplace of the cheese, England, in prestigious tasting competitions. After taking home the ”world’s best cheddar” title on several different occasions, Vermont spread its wings and now produces all kinds of world-class cheeses, especially those made from goat and sheep milk, alpine-style cheeses in the tradition of Switzerland and higher-altitude parts of France, and soft cow’s milk cheeses in similar style to French brie or camembert. These artisanal cheeses are sold at top gourmet retailers across the nation and increasingly seen by name on the menus of some of the country’s finest restaurants. Despite being one of the smallest states in the nation (sixth) with the second-least inhabitants, Vermont just took home half a dozen gold medals at the 2011 World Cheese Championships – more than some entire countries.
By most estimates the Green Mountain State has more cheese makers per capita than any other place, and about 45 producers belong to the Vermont Cheese Council. The state is home to the nation’s largest cheese aging cave, a 22,000 square foot facility consisting of seven underground vaults. It is owned by Jasper Hill one of the most acclaimed dairies in the cheese-mad state, but shared and used for aging by several artisanal cheese makers.
Now Vermont is doing more than just making and selling great cheese, they are using it to drive tourism and educate the public. The Vermont Cheese Trail includes about 20 dairy farms open to the public and offering some sort of tour, many with cheese tasting, and these dot the state in a visitor-friendly manner from the southern border to the Canadian border, east, west and central. There is no spot in the state far from a cheese maker.
Vermont is already one of the most beautiful and naturally unspoiled states in the nation, a great place for a driving road trip, and now visitors have these two great options for eating and drinking their way across the state. Maybe it’s time to hit the road?