The US cheese industry has witnessed a renaissance in recent years, thanks to the tireless efforts of talented artisanal cheesemakers. These individuals and their establishments have pushed the boundaries of traditional cheesemaking, introducing innovative techniques, unique flavors, and unparalleled quality. Their dedication and passion have not only elevated American artisanal cheese to new heights but also inspired a growing appreciation for craft and sustainability in the industry. Join us as we explore the top 10 most influential artisanal cheesemakers in the US and delve into their significant contributions.
1. Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont:
Jasper Hill Farm, nestled in Vermont's picturesque Northeast Kingdom, is renowned for its commitment to quality and sustainability. Their cheeses, such as the award-winning Harbison and Bayley Hazen Blue, exemplify the farm's dedication to terroir-driven flavors and traditional craftsmanship. Moreover, Jasper Hill Farm's innovative Cellars at Jasper Hill project has revolutionized aging practices, leading to the creation of exceptional aged cheeses like Winnimere.
2. Rogue Creamery, Oregon:
Rogue Creamery, located in Oregon's scenic Rogue Valley, has played a pivotal role in reviving the American artisanal blue cheese scene. Their flagship cheese, Rogue River Blue, has earned international acclaim for its complexity and distinctive flavors. Rogue Creamery's commitment to sustainable practices, including organic farming and support for local agriculture, has also made them an influential figure in the industry.
3. Cowgirl Creamery, California:
Founded in 1997, Cowgirl Creamery has been instrumental in shaping California's artisanal cheese movement. Their signature cheese, Mt. Tam, a triple-cream masterpiece, has become an iconic representation of West Coast cheesemaking. With a focus on organic ingredients and traditional techniques, Cowgirl Creamery continues to inspire aspiring cheesemakers across the country.
4. Vermont Creamery, Vermont:
Vermont Creamery, based in Websterville, Vermont, has made a significant impact on the US cheese industry with its exceptional goat cheese offerings. Their fresh chèvres and aged creations, like Cremont and Bonne Bouche, showcase the versatility of goat milk and have earned numerous accolades. Vermont Creamery's commitment to sustainability and supporting local farmers has also made them a trailblazer in the industry.
5. Beecher's Handmade Cheese, Washington:
Beecher's Handmade Cheese, located in Seattle, Washington, is renowned for its commitment to artisanal cheesemaking and transparency in sourcing. Their flagship cheese, Flagship, is a delicious cheddar-style cheese that exemplifies their dedication to high-quality ingredients and traditional craftsmanship. Beecher's also operates a unique cheese-making experience in the heart of Seattle, providing visitors with a firsthand look at the cheesemaking process.
6. Cypress Grove, California:
Cypress Grove, based in Arcata, California, has gained recognition for its outstanding goat cheeses, particularly the award-winning Humboldt Fog. This iconic cheese features a distinctive ribbon of edible vegetable ash and embodies the innovative spirit of American artisanal cheesemaking. Cypress Grove's commitment to sustainable farming and their collaborations with local artisans have had a lasting impact on the industry.
7. Capriole Goat Cheese, Indiana:
Capriole Goat Cheese, located in Greenville, Indiana, has been a pioneer in American farmstead cheesemaking. Their artisanal goat cheeses, such as the luscious Wabash Cannonball and the earthy Sofia, have gained widespread acclaim for their rich flavors and impeccable quality. Capriole's founder, Judy Schad, played a pivotal role in promoting goat cheese and establishing its reputation in the US.
8. Uplands Cheese Company, Wisconsin:
Uplands Cheese Company, nestled in the rolling hills of Wisconsin, has crafted some of America's finest farmstead cheeses. Their seasonal cheese, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, is inspired by the traditional Alpine cheeses of Switzerland, showcasing the rich flavors of summer pasture. Uplands Cheese Company's commitment to sustainable farming practices and rotational grazing has been instrumental in shaping the US cheese industry.
9. Meadow Creek Dairy, Virginia:
Meadow Creek Dairy, situated in the mountains of southwest Virginia, has made a lasting impact with their artisanal raw milk cheeses. Their signature cheese, Grayson, is a washed-rind beauty with a velvety texture and robust flavors. Meadow Creek Dairy's emphasis on traditional cheesemaking techniques and sustainable farming has not only earned them numerous awards but also inspired a new generation of cheesemakers.
10. Consider Bardwell Farm, Vermont:
Consider Bardwell Farm, located in West Pawlet, Vermont, has been at the forefront of American farmstead cheesemaking since its founding in 2003. Their cheeses, including the renowned Rupert and Pawlet, exemplify the farm's commitment to crafting exceptional raw milk cheeses with distinct regional flavors. Consider Bardwell Farm's dedication to sustainable agriculture and their revival of historic farmstead cheesemaking have been pivotal in shaping the US cheese industry.
These ten artisanal cheesemakers have left an indelible mark on the US cheese industry, pushing boundaries, inspiring innovation, and fostering a greater appreciation for craft and quality. From Vermont to California, Oregon to Indiana, their dedication to traditional cheesemaking techniques, sustainability, and support for local communities have set new standards for the industry. As we celebrate their achievements, we can confidently say that American artisanal cheese is at its finest, thanks to the contributions of these influential cheesemakers.