Did you know that there is a website that highlights every single cheese monger, shop, barn, road shack and store in the state of Vermont? You’re welcome.
As a lover of all things cheese, I had to at least start making my way through the list of 49 “cheeseries.” My friend Meghann is also a lover of all things cheese, and so we embarked on a leaf peeping, cheese eating, wine seeking, maple consuming adventure through the southern part of the state.
First stop? Brattleboro, VT for a very quick stroll through the town. We made a lightening speed detour in Twice Upon a Time, a store filled with “everyone’s grandmother’s things in one place” according to Meghann. We debated whether or not to buy 1980s ball gowns to wear for the rest of the trip, but opted to keep things real with our fall gear instead. I sadly did not see the beloved tea shop that sells the best chai (we’ll just have to go back!).
Afterwards, we drove down the road to the Grafton Village Cheese Company. I have attended plenty of cheese classes – but never a cheese tasting. I have found my mecca. Bowls and plates of cut up cheese are everywhere, and it is essentially a grand cheese party free for all. We sampled a range of cheeses from cheddars (aged 1, 2, 3 years and “old timey”). We sampled parmesans. Smoked maple. Basically heaven. In the center of the store is the case of extra awesome cheese. The goat cheese covered in ash that I so loved in Paris was calling my name. And after a quick sample, we snatched up a tiny wheel to enjoy.
Grafton Village is also on a farm. The petting zoo portion was sadly closed, but we still hung out with goats.
Next stop was Putney Mountain Winery in Putney, VT. The tasting room was inside a giant basket store. I’m pretty sure there was a basket Reptar, among sharks, deer, moose and other creatures that lined the ceiling.
Putney Mountain Winery makes fruit wines and cordials. We tried Rhubarb Blush, Simply Cranberry, Simply Blueberry, a black currant after dinner wine, ginger cordial and maple cordial. Needless to say, I left with a bottle of the ginger cordial because in addition to loving all things cheese, I also love all things ginger.
We intended to find a place to picnic near the winery, and enjoy some of our new cheese treats. A Black Sabbath cover band was playing in the middle of town and essentially that was about all you could hear. Interested in a different type of ambiance, we looked at Google Maps and decided to drive to some green spaces. First green space? A cemetery. Second green space? The creepiest baseball field with a shack in the middle of the property and ripped up living room furniture outside. We sat in the car crying laughing for five minutes outside the shack before deciding to continue on our way.
Then we stumbled across Hidden Springs Maple – a very cute maple sugar shop with picnic tables and Adirondack chairs! Score. We stepped inside first and left with maple drinks, maple syrup and maple ice cream. Lunch was enjoyed, safely.
Stuffed to the brim (at least me, Meghann seemed to do a better job pacing herself with cheese!), we headed back to the car to drive about an hour North towards Woodstock. Our third stop was the Cabot Quechee Store. It was also an antique fair and flea market, and an alpaca exhibit. It was amazing.
Somehow, more cheese was consumed. This time, there was probably 30 varieties ranging from every cheddar under the sun, to bacon to garlic to Tuscany themed and more. I tried the spreadable port wine cheese and regretted it.
With just 90 minutes to spare, we made it to our final destination – Billing’s Farm and Museum (where they also have cheese!). Back in the 1890s, the farmer made 5,000 pounds of butter a year to distribute from Vermont to New York. Today it’s just an awesome museum with a few too many mannequin figures. We strolled the property taking fabulous pictures, watched them milk dairy cows (it is sadly done by machine and no longer done by hand these days – I guess this is more sanitary!) and visited the baby calves. Fresh apple cider was available, and we ended the visit with a quick stop to buy some of their butter cheddar cheese.
It was time to make our way back home – but since the Quechee Gorge was on the way, we stopped. And climbed to the bottom, which was fabulous, until we had to climb back up the mountain to the top. But in retrospect, this was probably good after the amount of cheese we had consumed. “Working off that cheese business.”