Much of the cheese in Vermont is made at small, on-farm cheesemaking facilities with milk from animals born and raised right on the farmstead. The amount and variety of cheese coming out of our tiny state is impressive.
Cow, goat and sheep's milk cheeses are all well-represented in a full range of styles from fresh chevre and ricotta to four year old cheddars.
Each Vermont cheesemaker has a unique story about the path they took to where they are today. Some grew up on dairy farms and saw cheese as a way to add value to the family's organic fluid milk operation. Others fled to Vermont from high-power jobs in the "big city" looking for a more meaningful life and a closer community to raise their family.
You can't talk about Vermont Cheeses without honoring some of the earlier pioneer cheesemakers. Three of them are women who have been honing their craft since the 1980's.
Lazy Lady Cheeses
Laini Fondiller started making goat's milk cheeses in the late 1980's when she moved to Vermont and started producing French style goat's milk cheeses in her Kitchen. In the years since she has moved into a certified cheese making facility, gone off-grid with wind mills and solar panels and makes a surprising variety of seasonal cheeses with just one assistant cheesemaker.
Orb Weaver Farm
Marjorie Susman and Marian Pollack started Orb Weaver Farm in March of 1981. With just 7 cows they produce close to 7000 pounds of cheese each year as they have done for over 30 years. They estimate they are in their 15th generation of cows that have all been born on the farm. Their cheese is farmhouse style, meaning it is made with milk produced on the farm. It is more moist than cheddar and melts beautifully.
After learning how to make cheese in Brittany while traveling Europe one summer, Alison teamed up with Bob Reese to create the nationally recognized Vermont Creamery (originally named Vermont Butter and Cheese). Their vision went beyond making and selling goat cheese. Alison and Bob knew that at the right scale, they could create opportunities for goat farmers who would produce the milk they needed in their operations. Today Vermont Creamery consistently wins awards at national cheese competitions for both their cheeses and butter.