ABOUT CHEESE COUNTRY
What Napa is to wine, Asheville is to cheese. But Asheville does not forgo wine. In fact, you will discover that there are 20 wineries in the North Carolina mountains and foothills near Asheville! And they pair wonderfully with Asheville’s native cheeses.
While you are enjoying your stay at Applewood Manor, plan to spend an afternoon soaking in the mountain beauty while you sample some of the best handmade cheese being made in the South. Visit farms and creameries where extraordinary cheeses from goat and cow are crafted. Most have tasting rooms and many offer accompanying wines. Plan to buy some of your favorites at their source. Those lucky enough to be staying at Applewood during April can take advantage of the popular North Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest that is held each April. The Fest features cheesemakers from the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail as well as other cheesemakers from around the Southeast. It is held on The Meadow of Highland Brewing at 12 Old Charlotte Hwy, Asheville. Unfortunately, the 2021 event has been canceled due to COVID. However, you can always create your own tour and tasting by visiting nearby locations. Here are my three favorites:
Looking Glass Creamery: This award-winning producer is an easy twelve-mile drive from downtown Asheville and is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 to 5:00. Get a bottle or glass of wine and one of their cheese plates to enjoy outdoors in their garden by the goats. Their creamery and Cheese Shop is located at 59 Noble Road, Fairview, NC 28730 on the way to Chimney Rock. Even if you don’t have time for a lunch of wine and cheese, you can sample their cheese and hand crafted caramel in the Cheese Shop where you will also fine local goods from nearby farms and food producers.
Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery: The next visit on your personal tour will be only seven and a half miles from Looking Glass Creamery if you put Blue Ridge on your schedule. However, it is down a curvy mountain road. The cheese maker, Victor Chiarizia, built his own cave for aging his cheese. He welcomes visitors by appointment on Wednesday and Friday cheese making days, so give him a call in advance at (828) 551-5739. Tasting tours are $5 per person. His distinctive cheeses are handcrafted in small batches and are cave-aged at a constant temperature. The Creamery is particularly noted for its Gouda and Blue Cheese. They are located at 327 Flat Creek Road, Fairview.
Round Mountain Creamery: Two creamery visits in one day are likely to be more than enough. So, you may want to save Round Mountain for another day or choose it in place of my other two recommendations. Round Mountain is about 25 miles from Asheville. Their 28-acre farm south of Black Mountain is home to 150 goats from which they produce twelve wonderful soft and seasonal aged goat cheeses. You can arrange to tour the milking and production areas and meet their friendly goats. Their store opens on Friday & Saturday from noon to 4:00pm. Call (828) 669-0718 in advance for a guided tour on Wednesday through-Saturday.
If you are going to be on the road, coming on going, before or after your stay at Applewood, you could consider following the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail. For a listing of all the creameries and a map of their locations go to https://www.wnccheesetrail.org/the-map.html.