Explore the 9 cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Explore the 9 Cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Photo courtesy of Round Mountain Creamery via Instagram.

By Ryan Pitkin

May 28, 2024

From Black Mountain to Vale, these are the folks to visit to complete western North Carolina’s cheesiest tour.

Western North Carolina is known for a few things: the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Christmas trees, and the Tweetsie Railroad among other wonders.

What if I told you that you can also find some of the country’s best artisan cheesemakers in the hills of western NC? In fact, the WNC Cheese Trail is one of the region’s best-kept secrets. Here’s the thing, though: They don’t want it to be a secret.

Launched in 2012, the WNC Cheese Trail is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the production and sale of artisan cheese made in western North Carolina while facilitating consumer education and encouraging tourism in the region to benefit its members.

And it’s not just about the cheesemakers. WNC Cheese Trail partners include seven wineries, 10 grocers, two hotels, and three restaurants.

The WNC Cheese Trail hosts the Carolina Mountain Cheese Festival each fall, but you don’t have to wait until October to try all nine cheesemakers. After all, the organization started with the printing of a simple map. All you have to do is follow it.

We’re here to help you plan your trip with some context around each of the nine cheesemakers that comprise the WNC Cheese Trail, moving from the easternmost business further west into the mountains.

White Tree Farm

403 W. Bristol Road, Statesville

OK, so any North Carolinian will tell you that Statesville should be considered as located in the Piedmont rather than western North Carolina, but the more the cheesier. Started in 2021 by Heather Goforth and her husband Chris, White Tree Farm is now Iredell County’s first fully certified goat cheese maker, producing a range of soft goat cheeses and other treats using milk from their own herd of goats.

Heather and Chris built out their own property to make it the farm it is today, and if you have similar aspirations, they even sell goats from the farm. Check out the listings on their website.

Explore the 9 Cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Photo courtesy of White Tree Farm via Instagram.

Blue Goat Dairy

2380 Cat Square Road, Vale

Using milk from their own herd of Lamancha, Alpine, and Saanen goats, the Borland family creates a variety of fresh, flavored goat cheeses and other dairy products like cajeta (caramel sauce) at the Blue Goat Dairy, located in the family’s Savior Vivre Farmstead in Vale.

Blue Goat feeds its goats — which the owners consider part of the family — with all-natural local hay that is not treated with sprays or other harmful chemicals. Goat cheese flavors available at the time of this writing include sun-dried tomato, lemon dill, Charlie’s Smokehouse BBQ, hibiscus cherry, and many more.

Sours Mountain Homestead Farm/English Cattle Company

19456 US 221 N, Marion, 28752

Located near the Linville Caverns, English Farmstead Cheese was a sixth-generation family-owned dairy farm that began making cheeses more than a decade ago. Opened by the English family in 1926, the store closed on May 1, as owners Terry and Susan English have entered their much-deserved retirement.

The farm store reopened on May 17 under the management of English Cattle Company and Sours Mountain Homestead Farm. The latter is a goat and rescue farm that makes beauty and skincare products with goat’s milk while English Cattle Company focuses more on beef than dairy. Still, the shop continues to sell locally made cheese from western NC businesses like Ashe County Cheese, so give them a visit.

Looking Glass Creamery

115 Harmon Dairy Lane, Columbus

Looking Glass Creamery is owned and operated by Jen and Andy Perkins, producing a wide variety of fresh and aged cheeses using milk from their own dairy farm. Their store in Columbus is a great place to sit down and chat with friends while sampling Looking Glass Creamery’s cheeses and other local goods.

“We are striving to create a multi-faceted farming operation with cows, dairy and cheesemaking at the center of what we do. Everything else builds from there,” the website reads. “As we grow and evolve we don’t want to become a larger and larger dairy producer, we want to build a diverse and sustainable farming operation and bring people on the farm to enjoy, learn and experience what we are doing.”

Explore the 9 Cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Photo courtesy of Looking Glass Creamery, LLC via Facebook.

Round Mountain Creamery

2203 Old Fort Road, Black Mountain

Founded in 2002 by Linda Seligman, Round Mountain became the first Grade “A” goat dairy in North Carolina, which means it meets specific quality and safety standards in its production, processing, and distribution practices.

Round Mountain specializes in soft goat cheeses, which are all made on their 28-acre farm in Black Mountain. Their large herd of Alpine and LaMancha goats are always happy to greet visitors.

Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery

327 Flat Creek Road, Fairview

Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery’s distinctive cheeses are hand-crafted using locally sourced milk and aged in a cheese cave that was carved into the base of a Fairview mountain by owner Victor Chiarizia. If that’s not cool enough for you, tours may just also include a glass-blowing demonstration.

“Our blues and washed-rind cheeses age in the Blue Room, where we pay special attention to their development and strictly control temperature and humidity,” the Blue Ridge website explains. “To further develop flavors unique to our region, we age most of our wheels in our cave. It’s this method that’s garnered respect and admiration for our sweet little creamery, located down a country lane in Fairview.”

Explore the 9 Cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery via Facebook.

Spinning Spider Creamery

4717 East Fork Road, Marshall

Spinning Spider Creamery is a family-owned-and-operated artisan goat dairy in Madison County that uses milk from its own herd of award-winning goats to produce fresh, aged, and bloomy rind cheeses.

“Our elevation is high, our air and water are pure and our goats reflect this in their vitality and production,” the website reads. “Because of this, our cheese encompasses the essence of our mountain environment … The entire family participates in the operation of the creamery. The end result is a variety of handcrafted artisan cheeses brought to their fullest complexity of flavors through care and attention to detail in an old world style.”

Explore the 9 Cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Photo courtesy of Spinning Spider Creamery via Facebook.

Lane in the Woods Farm & Creamery

138, Lotus Way Marshall

Not far down the road (or lane) from Spinning Spider, Lane in the Woods is also a family farm — created, crafted, and managed by the Lane family, who moved to Madison County in 2009. They bought land and a couple of cows and began pursuing their dream to live off the land.

Lane in the Woods has sold raw milk to the Marshall and Asheville areas since 2010 (known as Homemade in Marshall) and is now transforming its precious milk into artisanal cheese that can only be produced from the five cows grazing off Panhandle Creek in Madison County. The family includes an in-depth breakdown of their “Cheese Quest” on the farm’s website.

Explore the 9 Cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Photo courtesy of Lane in the Woods farm and creamery via Facebook.

French Broad Creamery

588 Green Valley Road, Leicester

The French Broad Creamery is the farmstead cheese arm of Mount Gilead Farm in Leicester, located about 20 minutes northwest of Asheville. The creamery produces fresh, bloomy rind, and aged goat cheeses from the milk of their herd of floppy-eared Nubians, prima-donna Saanens, and even-tempered Alpines. Call ahead to schedule a formal tour.

The French Broad Creamery farm store stocks their fresh cheeses as well as goat soaps, cajeta, farm-fresh eggs, local pottery, and more.

Explore the 9 Cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Photo courtesy of Mount Gilead Farm and French Broad Creamery via Instagram.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Explore the 9 cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese TrailExplore the 9 cheesemakers of the WNC Cheese Trail

Author

  • Ryan Pitkin

    Ryan Pitkin is a writer and editor based in Charlotte, where he runs an alternative weekly newspaper called Queen City Nerve. He is also editor of NoDa News, a community newsletter in the neighborhood where he has lived for 15 years.

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