Yes, they do make cheese in the US. A lot. Some of them are of exceptional quality as well, and are even made from raw milk. American cheese is well worth to explore, the cheeses mentioned below are some of these. Suggestions for other exceptional raw milk cheeses are received with thanks.
3 CORNER FIELD FARM, SHUSHAN, NY
Semi firm tomme-style aged cheese made of unpasteurized East Friesian ewe’s milk. Upstate this, right on the Vermont border. Battenkill Brebis is earthy and grassy when young, and develops a more complex paté as it ages.
To drink: Pinor Noir without too much toasted oak or Chardonnay on the slim side.
Sheep’s Milk Feta
A traditional Bulgarian(?) style feta made from raw sheep’s milk that has been aged over 60 days in brine made from sheep’s whey and salt. I have never tasted it but would love to taste an unpasteurirized pure sheep’s milk feta-style cheese as that is so rare or more probable non-existent in Greece. This feta has, according to 3 Corner Field Farm, a salty “tang”, and is dense but gets creamy in your mouth.
GREAT HILL DAIRY, MARION, MA
Great Hill Blue
Very white colour in spite of milk coming from Guernsey cows. Blue moulds set in a parsley style. Fruity taste with a bit of acidity and fairly salty but also with some sweet milk. Creamy texture. Made with raw milk from own herd and neighboring dairy farms.
To drink: A young Tawny or a semisweet white wine.
VERMONT FARMSTEAD CHEESE COMPANY, SOUTH WOODSTOCK, VT
Vermont Farmstead Cheddar
By and large a typical Vermont cheese due to the British influence in the “tough old days.” Unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese. Fruity and sweet taste of cream and butter. Fine, maybe a little more airy texture than other cheddars relating to how they treat the curd during cheesemaking.
To drink: Same as for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar above.
Similar to Farmstead Cheddar above, but this is based on the recipe of Wensleydale Yorkshire. Unpasteurized cow’s milk this too. Taste shows hints of apple tart and aftertaste of delicate honey tones.
To drink: Same as for the other Cheddar style cheeses above.
CELLARS AT JASPER HILL FARM, GREENSBORO, VT
Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue
Named after a military road in the area built at a time they were on the warpath against Canada. It’s been a while. As with most blue cheese it is Penicilium roqueforti that has done the job. Some blue cheese tends to have slightly peppery flavor. Bayley Hazen Blue has toned down pepper flavor, rather sweetish taste, nut and grass from the milk. Aged for a while it develops a not very marked but still distinct taste of licorice. Unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from 50 Ayrshire cows. Matures for 75 days.
Jasper Hill Farms has both a farm, a cheese factory and a fantastic aging cellar that they make available to other dairies in the area.
To drink: A traditional Riesling Kabinet will pair well here. If you’re after a beer, a Stout would pair just great as well.
Named after a philanthropist, a dairy farmer who lived around the turn of the century in Greensboro, where Jasper Hill is located. A mountain cheese style this hailing from Appenzeller. Firm and made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is not made on the farm but at a place called Vermont Food Venture Center. After the cheese making and some time to stabilize and develop the rind it is brought to the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm for maturation where it stays between 7 and 11 months. Flavorful cheese with hints of nuts that is so typical for the mountain cheeses. A little rubbery texture. Serve this as raclette or fondue, on its own or with good bread with some onion marmalade.
To drink: A rich red wine, preferably Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. Vermont is not a wine region so they drink beer with the cheese and recommend a robust Ale.
VON TRAPP FARMSTEAD, WAITSFIELD, VT
You’re so right, this family descended from the von Trapp family featured in the musical The Sound of Music. von Trapp Oma is a washed rind cheese from unpasteurized organic cow’s milk. Semi-soft. Matured at Jasper Hill for 60 to 90 days. Minimum maturation for unpasteurized cheese in USA is 60 days. Like several other washed rind cheeses it develops a relatively strong taste, but that is balanced by sweetish notes. The texture is buttery and the crust is thin and mild.
They also make an other unpasteurized organic cheese called Savage but it is currently not available, for unknown reasons.
To drink: An American Pinot Noir. For example, Johan Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009. Trappist style beer.
CONSIDER BARDWELL FARM, WEST PAWLET, VT
Consider Bardwell Farm is the oldest cooperative in Vermont, started in 1864. The cooperative makes cheese from both cow’s and goat’s milk. Unlike most other dairies in Vermont they do not use animal rennet.
A washed rind cheese made with unpasteurized cow’s milk from the Jersey breed. Semi-soft cheese with the flavor of butter and barnyard. Thus, a relatively flavorful cheese with a flavor that lasts.
To drink: Would suggest a Pinot Noir for this too; same as above. Alternatively, a glass of your favorite beer, and perhaps a slice of good sourdough bread.
A firm cheese from unpasteurized goat’s milk inspired by Italian Asagio among others. Very good to grate or eat like Parmigiano Reggiano. Available from October to May.
To drink: A powerful wine, but also a compelling white wine.
Not named after the English city where I spent my university days, but after the town of the same name in Vermont that form the gates of Vermont’s mountains. A goat’s milk cheese, unpasteurized and very rustic. If you’re not too fond of goat flavor, this is not the cheese for you. Since the goats move around on different pastures, the cheese shows a little variety depending on grazing resources.
To drink: A powerful and rustic cheese requires an American wine that “has everything”. Californian CS offers it.
A semi-firm cheese from unpasteurized cow’s milk inspired by Italian and Swiss cheese making. Aged four to six months. Herbs and farm butter taste. But also a hint of nuts. A great cheese to have on bread.
To drink: Try this with a American Merlot if it is not completely out.
A firm cheese from unpasteurized cow’s milk inspired by Gruyère and Comté. Coming in the wheels of 12 kg and mature at least six months. Has a slightly sharper flavor than the cheeses it’s inspired by and with a hint of butterscotch.
To drink: This tolerates more or less any red wine, but would like to recommend a rich white wine on Chardonnay grape.
SPRING BROOKE FARM, READING, VT
Spring Brook Farm also runs a foundation called Farm for City Kids where schoolchildren come for alternative education.
If we’re to compare this cheese with something, it’ll probably be Abondance (and certainly not the French goat cheese Tarentaise Savoie). A firm cheese of upateurisert organic milk from Jersey cows. Matured at least 10 months. Grass, nuts and butter on the palate, but also weak hints of spice with some pineapple at the end. Lovely cheese. Crispy between your teeth when you eat it. Delicious!
To drink: A juicy Pinot Noir.
A semi-firm cheese from unpasteurized organic cow’s milk. Raclette style and best suited for that as well. Matured from 12 to 18 months.
To drink: A rich white Chardonnay.
A Morbier style semi firm raw cow’s milk cheese with an ash stripe in the middle. A nutty taste and slightly on the sweet side. A very agreeable cheese. available at Whole Foods, at least in the North East.
To drink: Kungfu Girl from Washington state is a very suitable wine for this cheese. As most rieslings from the Pacific rim, it has a touch of sweetness. Not much.
LANDAFF CREAMERY, LANDAFF, NH
The cheese is called Landaff, the farm dairy as well and it lies in Landaff, so it is all very clear. A semi-firm washed rind cheese that matures four to six months at the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm. Is is made in New Hampshire and matured in Vermont. A mild cheese with butter and milk tones. Inspired by Welsh Caerphilly.
To drink:> A dry and still cider, or as above, Kungfu Girl Riesling.
CATO CORNER FARM, COLCHESTER, CT
Tucked into the countryside not far from Colchester, CT. Mother and son are responsible for the operation, she runs the farm, he’s the master cheesemaker. Started up back i 1997 and can show an impressive range of cheese, all made of raw cow’s milk from about 45 Jerseys. The cattle is fed on grass during summer and hay during winter with small additions of pure grain. The cheese is matured in a below surface cellar on oak shelves.
This is a firm cow’s milk cheese, but Manchego style, with a few more holes than the Spanish original. Available in two varieties; Womanchego is matured for three to five months, while Wise Womanchego is matured for a minimum of one year. A very yellow cheese when it is made in the summer and more ivory for the the winter cheeses. Fine, sweet matured taste with hints of nuts for the young variety with an addition of a very modest bitterness for the matured one. A bitterness that I appreciate. Texture is firm and dry. Washed rind.
To drink: Medium bodied reds or Chardonnay if you prefer whites.
Came about by accident this one. Post-it is also the result of a failed experiment. Inspired by Irish cheese and with cheddar tones. One of the most popular varieties at the dairy. Bloomsday also comes in two varieties; one matured for six to seven months, while Aged Bloomsday is matured 11 to 12 months. This extra storage gives it a pleasant sharpness. Bloomsday is a very good cheese, but Aged Bloomsday is even better. Sweet on the palate and firm and slightly crumbly texture.
To drink: A Syrah or Shiraz if you’re outside Europe. And since the cheese is American so might well be the wine.
The dairy’s signature washed rind cheese. Comes in rounds at about three quarter of a kilo. Made of raw, whole cow’s milk and calf’s rennet. Semi soft with a few holes. Rind is orange. Washed in brine and turned regularly. Matured for 65 to 75 days. The inspiration seems to be Munster from Alsace, France. A very good washed rind cheese, perhaps a bit too stinky for some, but the taste is milder even though it tells you it’s there.
Also comes in a bigger disc shaped variety called Fromage d’O’Cow.
To drink: The dairy recommends a trappist beer. For wine Zin or a sweetish hvite which is readily available from one of the neighbouring winemakers.
This is a variety of the Hooligan washed in Poire William from the neighbouring Westford Hill Distillery in Connecticut. Matured for two months. Same shape and size as the Hooligan, but the taste is much sharper.
Still another variety is Drunken Monk washed in beer from Willimantic Brewing Company. A third variety of this cheese is called Drunken Hooligan and is washed with the lees from the wine making at Priam Vineyard close by.
A firm alp style cheese reminding you a lot of Gruyère and Comté. Even though the texture is firm, it has small irregular holes which you do not find in neither Gruyère nor Comté. Made using vegetal rennet ans comes in 12,5 kilo wheels. Tye regular Dairyere is matured for seven to eight months while the Dairyere Reserve is matured for 12 months. The latter is a limited edition, though available every year. Two very pleasing cheeses.
To drink: Merlot
Black Ledge Blue
They also make a blue cheese called Black Ledge Blue. A medium strong blue cheese that is matured from three to five months. Creamy texture. It is perfect crumbled on a salad.
To drink A sweet white wine.
UPLANDS CHEESE COMPANY, DODGEVILLE, WI
Two families aquired this farm a few years ago. They make two cheeses depending on season – a summer cheese and a winter cheese.
Rush Creek Reserve
A cheese in true Mont d’Or style with a washed rind. Matured for a minimum of 60 days (while the original is matured for about 30 days). Is made from fall through the winter while the cattle is fed on hay. Very creamy texture under a fine, pale rind. A full bodied taste with beautiful milk tones and nuances of bouillon and wood. The latter naturally from the spruce belt it carries.
To drink: A Chardonnay. Could well be from California or Oregon if it’s done in a European style. Otherwise, turn to Burgundy or the Jura.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve
A firm cheese made from raw cow’s milk in a Gruyère or Beaufort style. Is made solely during summer while the cows feed on grass. Rind is washed with a mild brine. Some cheeses are matured for a minimum of 12 months and are sold as “Extra Aged”, but are only available in fall and early winter (well over a year after being made). Very typical Alp cheese taste. Complex milk aromas, and a sweet and nutty taste. Crystals add to the pleasure.
To drink: A European style Pinot Noir. If you prefer white; be it a Chardonnay.
ROGUE RIVER CREAMERY, CENTRAL POINT, OR
Rogue River Blue
Made of raw summer milk from grass fed cows. Wrapped in pear brandy soaked wine leaves from a neighbouring vinyard. Off-white colour, sweet taste and creamy texture with some crisp. Nuances of mandarin. But it kicks in strongly in the back of your mouth.
To drink: L’eau de vie de Poire William or a sweet white Riesling à la German Kabinett.
CRICKET CREEK FARM, WILLIAMSTOWN, MA
Semi-firm cheese made from raw cow’s milk. A rustic natural rind with a color of hay. Texture is compact with a few small holes. Color of paste is pale yellow. Fruity and creamy in your mouth. Some pineapple and citrus tones. A touch of sweetness. Matured for a minimum of four months. Also comes in an aged variety; Maggie’s Reserve, matured for 12 to 16 months.
To drink: A Riesling from the Pacific Rim or an Australian Chardonnay with some tropical fruit.