9 Best Artisan Cheesemakers in the U.S.

Jasper Hill Farm
Jasper Hill Farm

Whether it’s aged in a cave or made fresh that day, making cheese is an art form. And just like any craft, there are plenty of artisans out there who have dedicated their careers to perfecting it. Celebrate this year’s National Cheesemaker’s Day (June 18th) by sampling some of the finest fromage our country has to offer.

1. JASPER HILL FARM

Brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler bought what locals called "the old Jasper Hill farm" in 1998. The land was located in the same quiet, Vermont town where they had spent summers with their family as kids. They moved there looking to start a new chapter of their lives, and by 2003 their dairy business was ready to take off. The dozen varieties of cheese made in the cellars beneath Jasper Hill Farm can take anywhere from four weeks to 14 months to mature. Their Bayley Hazen Blue is one of the most sought-after blues made on U.S. soil, and their runny Winnimere—best scooped up with a spoon—is an American classic.

2. CYPRESS GROVE CHÈVRE

Cypress Grove Chèvre

A few decades ago, the American cheese scene consisted of orange squares wrapped in plastic and not much else. Mary Keehn helped spark an artisan cheese revolution when she founded Cypress Grove Chèvre in the 1970s. She originally chose goats as her dairy source out of convenience, and today they’re still making goat cheese better than most everyone in the country. The product they’re most famous for is their Humboldt Fog, named for the Northern California county they're based in. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of goat cheese, one bite of this stuff may make you a convert.

3. OLD CHATHAM SHEEPHERDING CREAMERY

Old Chatham Sheepherding Creamery

Old Chatham Sheepherding Creamery began as 600 acres of empty lands when Tom and Nancy Clark purchased it in 1993. The Old Chatham, New York farm is now home to thousands of sheep whose milk is used to make Kinderhook Creek, Ewe’s Blue, and Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert. In addition to their cheeses, Old Chatham Sheepherding company also produces a line of sheep’s milk yogurt.

4. COWGIRL CREAMERY

Cowgirl Creamery

Sue Conley and Peggy Smith founded Cowgirl Creamery less than 20 years ago, and they’ve since become superstars in the cheese world. The coastal California creamery produces a variety of award-winning cheeses, including their sumptuous Red Hawk and buttery Mt Tam. Their cultured creations can be found in restaurants, supermarkets, and independent cheese shops around the country.

5. GRAFTON VILLAGE CHEESE COMPANY

Grafton Village Cheese Company via Facebook

The Grafton Village Cheese Company, based in the Vermont town that shares its name, is best known for its aged cheddar. They produce several different varieties that range in age from one to four years, and sometimes even older. Their offerings also include a handful of flavored cheddars like smoked chili and truffle.

6. VERMONT CREAMERY

Vermont Creamery

The first collaboration between Allison Hooper and Bob Reese came out of a dinner celebrating Vermont agriculture in 1984. Looking for locally made goat cheese to complete one of the dishes on the menu, Reese reached out to Hooper, who was working at a dairy lab at the time. Hooper’s homemade cheese was a success and a decades-long partnership was born. Goat’s milk cheeses—both aged and fresh—are still the Vermont Creamery’s forte. They also create fresh dairy products made from cow’s milk like crème fraȋche, cultured butter, mascarpone, and quark.

7. UPLANDS CHEESE COMPANY

Many creameries are family-run operations. At Uplands Cheese Company, there are two families calling the shots. Andy Hatch and Scott Mericka served as apprentices under the farm’s original founders before purchasing the property together with their wives, Caitlin and Liana, in 2014. The owners may be new, but the two cheeses that made the Wisconsin farm famous haven’t gone anywhere. Their Alpine-style Pleasant Ridge Reserve is America’s most awarded cheese, being the only one to win both the U.S. Cheese Championships and the American Cheese Society’s top prize. Upland’s creamy Rush Creek Reserve is also highly coveted, and only available in late fall.

8. ROGUE CREAMERY

Rogue Creamery

Unlike many entries on this list, Rogue Creamery has a history that spans the greater half of the last century. It was founded by Tom Vella when he arrived in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley during the 1930s. After decades of producing some of the first and finest blue cheese to come out of the West Coast, the Vella family sold the creamery in 2003. The new owners, David Gremmels and Cary Bryant, committed to upholding the operation to its original high standards. Since then their blue cheese has won numerous accolades, and it was the first U.S. cheese awarded World's Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards.

9. VERMONT SHEPHERD CHEESE

Vermont Shepherd Cheese

Vermont Shepherd’s 250-acre farm in Westminster, Vermont is home to up to 700 sheep depending on the time of year. All that sheep’s milk is used to make only two cheeses: a summer cheese called Verano and a winter cheese called Invierno, which is also mixed with cow’s milk. Their small-batch productions and seasonal schedule makes Vermont Shepherd cheese notoriously hard to obtain.

10 Amazing Pieces of Peeps Art

“Edgar Allan Peep” by Christian Twamley / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council
“Edgar Allan Peep” by Christian Twamley / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

Some people paint, some scrapbook, and others create Game of Thrones-inspired dragon sculptures made of 5000 marshmallow Peeps. Candy art may seem like an unusual form of craftsmanship, but it’s more common than you might expect in the lead-up to Easter, when organizations around the country host Peeps art contests.

The aforementioned dragon, as well as the artworks pictured below, were all submitted to the “PEEPshow” contest—a fundraiser for the Carroll County Arts Council in Westminster, Maryland. According to event organizers, the event became the first exhibition of Peeps art when it debuted 12 years ago.

Keep scrolling to see some of the best Peeps sculptures from recent years (2017-2019), and visit the Art Council’s website to see all of this year's participants. (As of Friday afternoon, a Warhol-inspired artwork of "Marilyn Peeproe" appears to be in the lead.)

A space-themed Peeps display
“First Peeps in Space” by International Delight / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

A samurai sculpture
"Sugar Samurai" by Tristar Martial Arts / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

The rabbit from Alice in Wonderland
“I’m Late, I’m Late (for the PEEPshow)” by Vivian Davis / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

A caterpillar sculpture
“The Very Hungry Caterpeeper” by Lia Finch and M / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

A sculpture inspired by a painting
“Peep with the Pearl Earring” by Sandy Oxx / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council


“Edgar Allan Peep” by Christian Twamley / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

A Belle sculpture
“Beauty and the Peep” by Candace Birger, Westminster Cake Studio / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

Fish sculpture
“The Rainbow Fish” by Jen, Justin, Connor, and Jacob Myers / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

A Gumby sculpture
“Just Gumby” by Sydney Blacksten / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

A sculpture of a monster
“Percy the Purple Peeple Eater” by the Koontz Family / Courtesy of the Carroll County Arts Council

Vlasic Is Working on Pickle Chips Made Entirely of Pickles

iStock.com/bigacis
iStock.com/bigacis

It's easy to find pre-sliced pickle chips in a jar, but if you prefer to eat your snacks out of a bag, your pickle options are limited. Both Doritos and Lays potato chips have released products where pickles are used as flavoring and not the main ingredient. Now, the experts at Vlasic are developing bags of chips that don't just taste like pickles, but are made from real pickle slices, USA Today reports.

Vlasic's parent company Conagra Brands confirmed during a recent investor event that crunchy, snackable chips made entirely of pickles are in the works. Instead of struggling to open a jar every time you crave pickles, you'll be able to eat these chips straight from a bag. They will be vacuum-fried, making them dry and crispy like potato chips.

Vlasic hasn't revealed when the pickle chips will be released, or where they will be available to buy. But according to USA Today, Conagra co-chief operating officer Tom McGough did reveal that they "taste absolutely fantastic."

Can't wait to for Vlasic's pickle chips to arrive in your local grocery store? Here are some products that taste and smell like pickles to try in the meantime.

[h/t USA Today]

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