On a beautiful sunny Sunday cheese enthusiasts, cheesemakers, vendors, and other local food artisans came together for the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival at Shelburne Farms. There was something for everyone and every festival goer left satiated with over 150 artisan and Farmstead cheeses to taste as well as more than 80 local food and beverage products to sample. The crowd lined up before 10 a.m. and were serenaded by the sounds of musicians throughout the day. Between booths people were spotted having picnics, laughing, reading, and even taking a swim in Lake Champlain to cool off. While each and every cheesemaker and artisan was impressive, there were definitely a few that stood out and had people coming back for seconds and even thirds in some cases.
Bovina Valley Farms brought their one-of-a-kind cows milk cheese called Alderney. It’s a french style raw-milk Tomme that is aged for at least 60 days and packed with flavor. Vulto Creamery had a number of options for cheese lovers to try including a unique cheese, Miranda, which is washed in a locally produced absinthe called Meadow of Love. Karim Farm & Creamery located in Ryegate, Vermont brought me back to Italy with Vertalia, an artisan Italian style cheese packed with nutty and cheddar flavors. A majority of the time the rind of a cheese it’s the most appetizing part but with Cricket Creek Farm‘s Tobasi the cheese and rind are a delicious combination. Cellars at Jasper Hill had their award winning Harbison which sold out far from the end of the festival due to its popularity and taste. Harbison is a soft-ripened cheese with a rustic rind and has a blend of mustard, lemon, and vegetal flavors.
Cheesemakers may have dominated the booths but there were a number of other local businesses supplying samples including chocolate, sauces, and more. The best maple syrup of the festival goes to Wood’s Pure Maple Syrup and I was skeptical that it would really taste like campfire and bacon but I was so wrong. It’s the the perfect combination of sweet and savory and it’s truly impressive that they were able to put a taste to a campfire. Green Mountain Mustard gives mustard a whole new taste with a variety of flavors including their award winning, Clove Encounter, jam-packed with with ten cloves of garlic. Daily Chocolate had a number of classic chocolate samples but their Lemon Lavender Almond Bark stood out with its lemon and lavender flavors. The best alcoholic beverage goes to Lincoln Peak Vineyard with Marquette, a robust dry red wine that you’ll want to order by the case.
It’s never too early to start planning for next year’s festival and there are a number of beautiful places to stay near Shelburne. If you want homemade blueberry muffins, delicious coffee, a room with a view stay, and to support a family owned business stay at the affordable Brandon Motor Lodge. This Vermont Cheesemakers Festival may be over, but I’m already looking forward to the next summer filled with cheese, breads, meats, wines, and so much more to be enjoyed at Shelburne Farms.