Planning a wine trip to the Finger Lakes? Don’t forget the region is also home to the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail, a great way to balance out the booze and gorge yourself to your heart’s (dis)content.
There are 12 cheese producers in the The Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, seven of which are open to the public.
Engelbert Farms (Nichols, N.Y.)
Kevin and Lisa Engelbert have one accolade that’s hard to beat: They have the first certified organic dairy farm in the U.S. The couple and their family have been farming organically since 1981. The Engelberts make five cheeses, all with pasteurized milk, except for the raw milk cheddar. If you only try one, make it the Organic MooVache, the Engelbert’s spin on a chevre, made with cow’s milk instead of goat’s, and in eight flavors including lemon thyme and tomato basil.
Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday or by appointment
Muranda Cheese Company (Waterloo, N.Y.)
Nancy and Tom Murray started making cheese five years ago to utilize the hormone-free milk produced by their prize-winning Holstein cows. (In 1997, one of these cows set the world record for milk production and held it for 13 years.) Today, Muranda sells a dozen types of cheese, including several varieties of cheddar, a robust blue, and the Red Buddy, a Swiss/cheddar blend that begs for a glass of Pinot Noir.
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Shtayburne Farms (Rock Stream, N.Y.)
At this family-owned dairy farm, you can watch through the window as Shtayburne’s 15 varieties of cheese are made. Among the eight varieties of cheddar and seven flavors of Monterey Jack are the sweet blueberry and cranberry jacks and the hand-waxed extra-sharp cheddar, aged 18 months. Shtayburne also makes and sells cheese curds, among them the actually-not-too-hot chipotle flavor. Fancy French cheeses these are not, but for classic cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses made with milk from happy cows, you can’t go wrong here.
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Side Hill Acres Goat Farm (Candor, N.Y.)
The free tours of Rita and Russell Kellogg’s farm start off with a tasting of their goat cheeses and fudge followed by a walk through of the cheese and milk plants and the goat barn. The super-friendly Kelloggs make two types of goat cheese, Kefir and regular, as well as feta, yogurt, and cheese spreads. The sun-dried tomato feta is particularly piquant.
Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at noon to 6 p.m. Thursday. Closed Sunday but appointments can be made.
Parulski Farms (Bath, N.Y.)
This 2016 addition to the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance has little online presence, the better to entice you in to its quaint farm store. Here you’ll find six types of Jacks, including the intriguing pizza-flavored, five flavors of cheese curds and five cheddar cheeses, among them the tangy garlic sriracha.
Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, but please call ahead
Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery (King Ferry, N.Y.)
Kefir enthusiast Rose Marie Belforti and her husband Tim run this 12-acre farm named for the Dexter breed of cattle. The pair produce kefir cheese — made with a yeast and bacterial culture instead of the more common cheese-making practice of using acid or rennet — in small batches thrice weekly, and theirs is the only farm in the U.S. making cheese cultured with living kefir grains. Full of probiotics, kefir grains promote digestive health. Seven varieties of kefir cheese are available, including a peppercorn cheese without a rind and and the cave-age, wax-rind Roquefort.
Call ahead before visiting
Sunset View Creamery (Odessa, N.Y.)
The Finger Lakes Cheese Festival host is part of Hoffarms Dairy. The Hoffman family makes fresh mozzarella, semi-hard aged cheeses, aged sharp Monterey Jack cheeses in several flavors, and cheese curds.
Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through May 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from May 28 through September 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. September 6 through December 10, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. December 17-24.
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