Sunday, August 18, 2019

11th Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival Highlights

Sunday, August 11th was the first time I had ever attended the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, at Shelburne Farms Coach Barn, along the shores of Lake Champlain. Did you know Vermont is a world class cheese state with the highest number of cheesemakers per capita - over 40 of them??? I had no idea until I experienced this festival! The 11th annual festival was filled with the most amazing cheeses, local foods, wines, craft beers and spirits, and the passionate artisans who make it all. The festival went from 10pm - 4pm, and you literally need all day to walk through all the vendors, indulge in samples and make purchases. 

I did learn a few things during my trip, thanks to the festival and the presenting sponsor, Vermont Cheese Council, which is dedicated to the production and advancement of Vermont Cheese. Vermont has been home to cheesemakers since the 1800s, and is acknowledged as a national leader of the American artisanal cheese renaissance. 

The Vermont Cheese Council is made up of 52 cheesemaking members, producing over 150 varieties of cheese. Vermont's world-class cheeses represent a full range of milks, types, textures and flavors. Vermont cheeses are made from cow, goat, and sheep milk, ranging from soft and spreadable cheeses to ones that are aged for months to bring out the complex and full flavor.

After experiencing this festival, I've by far tasted the best cheeses and coffee, and I certainly did not go home empty handed. I bought a number of items including chocolate, maple sugar candy, CBD nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee, iced wine, jam, and hot fudge sauce. The only thing I didn't purchase was cheese since I didn't bring a cooler with me, as I would have loved to take home some of the burrata and goat cheese. Each attendee is given an insulated bag upon arrival, but since my bag was getting heavier with each purchase, and my car ride home was five and a half hours, a rolling travel cooler would have been the most ideal to have with me.

I do feel like a cheese snob now, and most definitely have to come back to experience the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival again. These cheeses are so fresh, creamy, and have distinct flavor profiles, especially the aged cheeses. Since I didn't arrive to Shelburne Farms until Saturday, I missed the   Education Day filled with interactive seminars, guided tours of Shelburne Farms cheesemaking and pastures, plus a behind-the-scenes look at the art and science of artisan cheese. That would be interesting to learn about next time! 

I want to thank the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival and Shelburne Farms for inviting me and having me as their guest! I'll be doing a separate blog post on Shelburne Farms as well as a round up of all my favorite items I purchased, as I imagine I'll be ordering more online! Attendees were also given a map with Vermont cheese trail for tours and tastings, so that would definitely be a fun trip in itself! Check out my highlights of favorite vendors I sampled!

At Shelburne Farms, the farmstead cheddar is made exclusively from the raw milk of their Brown Swiss cows. Their cheese is made using the traditional English chddar method, crafted by hand in their historic Farm Barn. The Shelburne Farms team produces about 170,000 pounds of cheddar annually! Their selection of handmade cheddars include six-month, one-year, tow year, three-year, smoked, clothbound, tractor, and beer. 

Shelburne Vineyard with a refreshing Whimsey Meadow Rosé

Billings Farm 

Blake Hill Preserves 

Nettle Meadow Artisanal Cheese

Twig Farm 

Citizen Cider

Crowley Cheese

Butterworks Farm

von Trapp Farmstead

Ariel's Honey Infusions

Crooked Mile Cheese

Stonecutter Spirits

Plymouth Artisan Cheese Co.

CBD-Infused Coffee by Abracadabra Coffee Co.

Boyden Valley Winery features the Frontenac Brut Rosé dry champagne that was released in October 2018. This unique type of sparkling wine is only available in 8 vineyards in all of America, and 28 in the whole world.

Dakin Farm


Allagash River Trip Belgian-Style Session Ale

Smuggler's Notch - the Moroccan Rose & Grapefruit Flavored Vodka is so unique!

Shacksbury Cider

Vermont is known for their pure maple syrup, and I couldn't pass up purchasing several pieces of the maple sugar candy.  All people that work at the Tunbridge Sugarhouse are volunteers, and proceeds go to sugar maple research, marketing and education.

Josh Cellars - love the prosecco! 

Aqua ViTea Kambucha sampled flavors in Peach Mint, Pinapple Lemonade,  Turmeric Sunrise, and BlueBernie

Red Kite Candy toffee, chocolate sea salt caramels, and sea salt caramels

Burke Mountain  makes these amazing Maple Caramel and Maple Bourbon truffles!

Boyers Ice Cider

Hooker Mountain Farm Distillery

Vermont Creamery Goat Cheese

Fat Toad Farm

Z Wraps are sustainable, all-natural reuseable beeswax wraps for protecting your food and the environment. They are made with cotton fabrics in signature designs. 

Brio Coffeeworks

Sweet Rowen Farmstead Nettle Cube - Fresh cheese rolled in stinging nettles

Sugar Bob's

It's Arthur's Fault!

Snowcap CBD cold brew coffees

- Kim Weling

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