To quote Monty Python, “Blessed are the Cheese-makers.” Vermont might be a different place today had it not been for the industry spawned by some ambitious dairy farmers a century or so ago.
From a simple farmer’s cooperative started in a farmhouse 100 years ago, Cabot Cheese has grown to become Vermont’s  best-known (if not best) producer of cheddar cheese. Though the company now makes 15 million pounds of cheese annually, it is still run as a farmers cooperative (with now more than 2,000 farm families) and still operates on the same land where it began.
Enormous white silos loom over the Cabot Creamery (2878 Main St./Rte. 15, Cabot Village, 800/837-4261, www.cabotcheese.com , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily June–Oct.; 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat. Nov.–Dec. and Feb.–May; 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat. Jan., $2 adults and youth 13 and up), where tours are given every half hour down the Cheddar Hall to see the cheese-making process.
Giant steel machines looking like something out of War of the Worlds have taken the place of hand churning, but in some ways, the cheese is still made the old-fashioned way, without the introduction of enzymes to speed the process. Along the way, tour guides present the opportunity to try different types of cheddar.
Lately, the company has been experimenting with all kinds of additions to the cheese, including horseradish, jalapenos, and chipotle peppers. For our money, the three-year Private Reserve is still the best bet.
A gift shop sells wax-wrapped blocks at a steep discount, along with other made-in-Vermont foodstuffs and gifts.