cheese maker on Vermont cheese trail

The Best Stops on the Vermont Cheese Trail

A Cheese Lover’s Paradise

The Vermont Cheese Trail encompasses over forty cheesemakers across our entire state – from Barn First Creamery in Westfield in the far north to Grafton Village Cheese Company in Brattleboro, near the Massachusetts state line down south. The Vermont Cheese Council was formed over two decades ago to connect these independent cheesemakers and dairy farms, many family-owned for multiple generations, into a non-profit and member-driven “cheese trail” network. The cheese trail map comprises six regions, and our Waterbury bed and breakfast is ideally located in the central zone, running roughly from Stowe to Waitsfield. Whether it’s attending our upcoming cheese-tasting event with Parish Hill Creamery (details TBD, check our website for updates), touring the lush pastures and feeding baby goats at Sage Farm, enjoying phenomenal maple yogurt and blue cheeses at Von Trapp Farmstead, or sampling from over 100 unique cheeses at Mad River Taste Place, the best of the Vermont Cheese Trail is just minutes away from our doorstep.

Cabot creamery on Vermont cheese trail
Parish Hill Creamery – Award-Winning Cheeses and Small-Town Vermonter Spirit

Parish Hill Creamery, located in the tiny town of Westminster, has exemplified Vermont cheesemaking mastery since opening its barn doors in 2013. With a guiding motto of “natural cheese done right,” their husband-and-wife operation brings decades of experience to their completely handmade method. Using raw milk and specially chosen starter cultures from four cows (with charming names, of course: Sonia, Helga, Clothilde, and Abigail) to craft their line of over 15 unique cheeses, they have won countless awards from the American Cheese Society (ACS). Because the raw milk never gets above 104 degrees, the original profile of the milk is preserved through the process, adding to the complexity of the resulting cheese. If you’re into blue cheese, the West West Blue, a two-curd gorgonzola, or the Jack’s Blue, a milder and earthier version, impress with their subtle flavoring. Other specialty options like the Kashar, a buttery smooth Balkan-style cheese, or the “long-aged” sharp Herdsman, are creative and represent the highest level of craftsmanship.

In addition to their exceptional cheeses, Parish Hill embodies the tried-and-true Vermonter farm ethic, having their cows graze pastures naturally with the seasons. They are also embedded in the local community, working closely with the students at nearby Putney School, forty of whom milk, feed, and care for the Parish Hill cows daily at Elm Lea Farm – located on-site at the school, allowing students to get invaluable experience tending to the cows and playing an active part in a working dairy farm. Owners Peter and Rachel also give back to the larger cheesemaking community by consulting, sharing their expertise, and raising the bar of cheese quality throughout the country. Although Parish Hill is an hour and 45-minute drive south of Waterbury, it’s worth the scenic day trip to visit their farmstand, but in the meantime, you can order their top-notch selection of cheeses online.

Cheddar Heaven at Cabot Creamery and Goat Cheese Magic at Sage Farm

Just outside Waterbury on Route 100, you’ll arrive at the Cabot Creamery Store in only five minutes, an outpost filled from wall to wall with cheesy delights. Dating back over a century, Cabot is a farmer-owned cooperative made up of hundreds of dairy-farming families and several creameries spread throughout New England and New York, all working together to produce some of the world’s best cheddar cheeses (comprising seven types, including 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year aged cheddars, plus other styles like white oak, sharp, and “seriously sharp”). Their flavored cheddar cheeses add extra character, like habanero, garlic herb, and smoky bacon, and don’t fret if you’re lactose-intolerant – the lactose in their curd breaks down in the aging process, resulting in a lactose-free cheese, a pleasant surprise for Vermont Cheese Trail trekkers who have lactose dietary restrictions. Their curated bundles make an excellent souvenir or gift to bring home from your stay, like the Vermont Snack Pack, which includes three types of cheese, salted maple crackers, and maple candy (if you visit during late winter, check out our recent blog about Vermont maple sugar shacks and the tasty traditions of “sugaring season”).

Continue on Route 100 just north of Stowe to Sage Farm Goat Dairy, another local stop on the Vermont Cheese Trail. Much like Parish Hill, Sage Farm is a quaint and family-run farm, in this case, operated by two sisters, their partners, and kids, who pitch in on the whole process, from raising baby goats and running the pasture to hands-on work in the cheesemaking room. With just twenty goats, they produce an astounding variety of cheeses, whether it’s a rich springtime maple banon, perfectly tangy feta, a lemony “Madonna” chevre, or their one-of-a-kind Lightning Knoll, which has a rind washed with Heady Topper – a legendary local brew made by Alchemist Brewery, one of our favorite local breweries and a perfect place to saddle up for a cold brew after an afternoon of cheese-tasting. The Sage self-serve farm stand is open 9 am – 5 pm from April through November, but for a truly immersive experience, join one of their weekly farm tours offered every Sunday at 11 am, when you’ll spend 90 minutes roaming the pastures, checking out the cheesemaking barn, and tasting fresh-made cheese. Even better, if you visit in May, you’ll get a chance to bottle-feed their newest round of baby goats, a delightful and adorable experience.

A Day To Savor in Waitsfield – Visiting a Family Farmstand, Idyllic Covered Bridge, and Tasting Cheeses From Across Vermont Cheese Trail

On a different day, plan to head 20 minutes in the opposite direction (south on Route 100) to Waitsfield, where you’ll find more Vermont Cheese Trail deliciousness at the Von Trapp Farmstead Store. Like many other creameries and cheesemakers in Vermont, the Von Trapps passed down the family trade and legacy from generation to generation, harnessing regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming even as they’ve increased their output over the decades. At their farm store, open Friday through Sunday from 9 am – 5:30 pm, you can browse the decadent selection of cheeses, preserves, and pasture-raised charcuterie. Be sure to try their smooth and natural rind Mad River Blue cheese, which has swept all of the top cheese awards in recent years, and their cream-top maple yogurt, with a subtle sweetness a step above anything in your big box grocery dairy aisle.

While in Waitsfield, drive over the “Great Eddy” covered bridge, the oldest and longest-stretching (105 feet across) of the countless historic covered bridges in the Waterbury area – each with a unique design, look, and backstory. During the summer, there’s also a great swimming hole near the bridge on the Mad River, a refreshing way to cool off between cheese trail stops.

Finish your Vermont Cheese Trail exploration a mile from the bridge at the Mad River Taste Place, the passion project of local cheese experts who opened in 2017, aiming to offer the best Vermont cheeses from across the state, all available in one convenient location. From garlic and peppercorn cheese from Plymouth Artisan (the second oldest cheesemaker in the country, dating back to 1890) and Whitney cheese from Jasper Hill to maple cheddar from Farmstead, you can take a virtual tour of the state’s diverse cheese offerings with their unlimited free samples. In addition to their impressive selection of over 100 cheeses, browse their local dry ciders, raw honey, and maple syrup, representing the full range of Vermont pastimes.

Stay with us and explore the breadth of flavors, from gorgonzola to aged cheddar, along the Vermont Cheese Trail!