Anyone interested in gobbling up some award-winning gouda, cheddar, or Monterey jack doesn't need to look any farther than Indiana. People may not think of the Hoosier state as a dairy region, but Indiana's small dairy owners are making history. They're adding new flavors to the state's culinary culture. Visitors to these establishments can learn about cheese, dairy cows, and even participate in a goat yoga class if they head to ... . Read on to find out where to try Indiana's best cheeses and how to plan a day trip or weekend tour of these delicious destinations.
There are 10 creameries and dairies listed on The American Dairy Association Indiana's website. While cheese enthusiasts can find most of their cheeses at Indiana farmers' markets and local grocery stores, several are open to the public for tastings, tours, and even cheese-making classes.
Visiting every creamery on this list would take about 11 hours of driving and mean covering around 600 miles. People with less time should focus on visiting the cheese-makers in northern Indiana: Heritage Ridge, Crystal Springs, Schnabeltier, Fair Oaks Farms, and Golfo di Napoli.
Heritage Ridge Creamery, Middlebury
- Cheeses: Colby, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Amish Creamery Cheese, Pepper Jack
- Visiting hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
- Attractions: Watch the cheese-making process, sample their products, visit their store
The Heritage Ridge Creamery began in the 1970s. Amish dairy farmers needed to sell their milk. Since they used traditional milk cans, they couldn't find an outlet for their product until this creamery opened. Now, a farmers' cooperative owns Heritage Ridge. The company continues to use milk produced by local, family-owned dairy farms to make its scrumptious cheeses.
Jacobs & Brichford, Connersville
- Cheeses: Adair, Ameribella, Briana, Everton, Tomme, and JQ
- Where to purchase their products: At the farm with a previous appointment, Seward Coop, Elephant's Delicatessen, DiBruno Brothers, Concord Cheese Shop, and Cerulean Restaurant
Jacobs & Brichford use raw milk to produce their award-winning cheeses on the farm that has been in the family since 1819. They are not open to the public, but people who want to visit can call and make an appointment.
Crystal Springs Creamery, Oceola
- Products: flavored cheese curds, yogurt
- Store Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Family-owned Crystal Springs Creamery focuses on quality and sustainability. They grow the corn, alfalfa, and grass they use to feed their livestock. Their cattle live a comfortable, happy life on the farm. The family doesn't use growth hormones or rBST, and they don't add preservatives to their milk. They produce their yogurts and cheese curds in small batches. That means they can pay attention to every detail which results in high-quality, delectable dairy products.
Steckler Grassfed Farms, Dale
- Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, and Pepper Jack
- Where to purchase their products: Online or at the farm
Steckler Grassfed Farms focuses on sustainability. They use a rotational system to pasture their milk cows and add compost to the soil. The farm isn't officially open for tourism, but anyone who wants to try their cheeses can stop by to purchase them directly.
- Cheeses: Asiago, Swiss, Gouda, Cheddar, Gruyere
- Visiting hours: Monday-Thursday 10 am - 6 pm, Friday 10 am-8 pm, Saturday 12 pm - 8 pm, Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm
- Attractions: tastings, outdoor seating, fun events like the "Grand Tour" drive and picnic lunch
Schnabeltier is unique in many ways. For one, this establishment is a combination brewery, winery, and cheese factory. There are few places where people perform all three activities under one roof. Haley Lehman is the brewmaster and one of the two cheesemakers, here. She is breaking the glass ceiling for women in beer-making. Most importantly: Schnabeltier's products are exquisite.
Golfo Di Napoli, Warren
- Cheeses: Mozzarella, Burrata, Ricotta, Caciocavallo, Provola
- Caffé hours: Tuesday through Thursday 10 am - 6 pm, Friday through Saturday 11 am - 8 pm, and Sunday 10:30 am - 3 pm
Dining at the Golfo Di Napoli Caffé allows guests to try the establishment's cheeses in traditional Italian dishes. Experts from Italy have trained the restaurant's chefs to ensure the authenticity of their offerings. The final result is astounding.
Tulip Tree Creamery, Indianapolis
- Cheeses: fresh mozzarella, a wide variety of soft cheeses, curds, fromage, gouda-cheddar cross, gruyere-style, chevre-style (with cows' milk), Tomme/Taleggio-style
- Where to purchase their products: Saturday farmers' markets at Binford, Broad Ripple, Carmel Summer, and Garfield; shops like Artisano's, and Cork and Cracker in Indianapolis
The Tulip Tree Creamery is not open to the public, so people interested in trying their cheeses will have to order them online, purchase them at a farmers' market, or pick them up from one of the many shops that sell them. People hoping to learn more about Tulip Tree Creamery can sign up for a cheese-making class. Beginners start with mozzarella while more advanced students get to try their hands at cheddar and gouda.
Hufford Family Dairy, Manchester
- Raw milk cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Gouda, Garden Herb, Hot Pepper, Jalapeño and Pizza (similar to mozzarella)
- Where to purchase their products: 3 Rivers Natural Grocery, Ft. Wayne; The Wellness Barn, New Haven; Manchester Marketplace, North Manchester; Integrity Meats, Churubusco; RiverRidge Farm, Roann; Spring Creek Market, Larwill; Farmers' Markets in Ft. Wayne, Wabash, and North Manchester
Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks
- Cheeses: Swiss, Gouda, Muenster, Havarti, Farmers', Enmanteler, Aged Cheddar, Asiago, Butterkase, Asiago, and Calico
- Visiting hours: Tours Monday through Saturday 9 am - 5 pm and Sunday 10 am - 5 pm, Dining Sunday through Thursday 10:30 am - 8 pm and Friday through Saturday 10:30 am - 9 pm
- Attractions: agrotourism tours, harvest activities, live music, apple picking, workshops
Fair Oaks Farms offers so much more than cheese. A group of farmers created this campus to teach people about sustainable farming practices. Visitors can take a tour of the dairy farm and see the milk cows. They can stop in the Cowfé and try the ice cream. This complex even has a hotel where guests can sleep in a grain silo.
Trader's Point Creamery
- Cheeses: Gouda, Geneva, Tomme, Cheddar, Fromage, soft cheeses
- Visiting hours: the Farm Store opens Monday - Sunday 9 am to 6 pm; the restaurant offers lunch Tuesday - Friday, dinner Tuesday - Saturday, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays
- Attractions: restaurant, dairy bar, watch evening milking, self-guided tour ($3 per person), guided tours for groups of 12 or more, yoga classes with farm animals
Trader's Point is Indiana's first USDA-certified organic dairy. The Kunz family oversees every step of production from "soil to spoon." Their milk cows exclusively eat grass. Their mission is to farm in harmony with the animals and the land while bringing people closer to the way food is produced. The farm itself is a beautiful location with green fields, historic barns, and more. Couples will be interested in Trader's Point's proposal package.