Cheese just makes everything better. You can put it on food, eat it for desert, or just have at it whenever you have a craving for something that’s not quite a dessert and yet not quite a meal. It’s the perfect snack, the perfect app, all in all, the perfect food. That being said, there are some cheeses that are better than others. While we here at Wine.Life.Style would never turn down a mozzarella stick if offered, we love the good things in life. So we’ve gone through the interwebs and put together a list culled from experts on the best of the best artisanal cheesmakers from around the U.S. We couldn’t help but add in a few wine pairing tips, just because of our love for fancy grape juice.
We used Mental Floss, Refinery 29 and Conde Nast Traveler as our guide:
JASPER HILL FARM, VT (MF, Refinery 29, CNT)
This cheese is so good, it made the top list not just for the States, but Conde Nast Traveler’s worldwide faves. Helmed by brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler and located in Vermont, their Harbison, oozing with goodness, is a favorite as is the Bayley Hazen Blue. Crackers are just a carrier for all these immortal flavors. Bonus: Non-GMO verified.
For wine pairing, try the Harbison with an oaked white wine and the Bayley with a fruity dessert wine.
CYPRESS GROVE, CA (MF, R29)
Mary Keehn helped spark an artisan cheese revolution when she founded her NorCal goat cheese farm in the ’70s. Humboldt Fog is their most famous delight. It’s almost like a thick cloud that the angels sent down from heaven. Even if you don’t don’t like goat cheese, this addictive cheese might change your mind. Bonus: Animals are humanely treated.
Try the Humboldt with a Rosé or mature Pinot Noir and the Midnight Moon with a Syrah.
COWGIRL CREAMERY, CA (MF, R29)
In a perfect little town on the California coast, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith founded Cowgirl Creamery less than 20 years ago. They created the super yummy, sunset red-orange rinded Red Hawk and their most popular, to-die-for organic Mt Tam cheeses.
Red Hawk pairs well with bold red wines and Mt Tam with Pinot Grigio.
UPLANDS CHEESE COMPANY, WI (MF, R29)
Run by the Hatch and Mericka families, Uplands has created two cheeses that really put them on the map. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is the most-awarded cheese in American history, winning both the U.S. Cheese Championships and the American Cheese Society’s top prize. Wowza. Rush Creek Reserve is also no slouch, but only available in late fall.
Pleasant Ridge goes with a lot of wine, the best to try are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling, which goes great with Rush Creek, as well.
ROGUE CREAMERY, OR (MF, Refinery 29)
From Southern Oregon, David Gremmels and Cary Bryant are making blue cheese that have won numerous accolades, and it was the first U.S. cheese awarded World’s Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards. Smokey Blue is the proof. First of all, it’s the world’s first smoked blue cheese. Second, it’s cave aged for a minimum of 6 months. Make your mouth happy and try it with a zinfandel. Bonus: Sustainable and natural grass-based milk. Committed to organic, sustainable, GMO free, and socially responsible practices.
Try this yumminess with a Zinfandel.