There’s no shortage of opportunities to buy wine while exploring the nation’s best vineyards, but what about the beverage’s best friend, cheese? These cheese shops around the nation provide an impressive selection of delicious, often unusual dairy products within close proximity to popular wine tasting regions. Here is the magnificent 7 World Class Cheese Shops. Enjoy!
FRENCH CHEESE IN CALIFORNIA
1129 Garden St
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Born of an effort to bring a little Parisian atmosphere to the central California coast, Fromagerie Sophie boasts a wide selection of international cheeses in an intimate setting, with new arrivals and weekly picks always offering new reasons to stop in for a visit. Varieties of cured meats and crackers are also on hand to help create the perfect cheese plate. The staff are well-versed on wine pairings as well, and can often recommend a suitable cheese based on the local wineries you plan on visiting.
MONTEREY IN SANOMA
Vella Cheese Co.
315 2nd St E
Sonoma, CA 95476
Local and Free Range
Another one of many artisan shops scattered around Sonoma’s vibrant main square, Vella Cheese Co. emphasizes local sustainable production, using free-range cows from the local farm Mertens Dairy and a minimal amount of added salt. All their prize-winning cheeses are finished in Vella’s historic stone building, and most are delectable versions of familiar varieties like cheddar or Monterey jack (but infused with striking flavors like rosemary and habanero)
Wine Country Tip: The products are all vacuum-sealed for sale and will last long enough to survive a flight or drive, so those visiting from out of state can still take their favorite cheeses home with them.
2650 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Happy Hours of Cheese
A rare local chain focused solely on cheese, Venissimo lets customers create their own charcuterie boards after sampling local and imported cheeses, as well as cured pork sliced fresh in the Spanish tradition. Their other delicious dairy-centric offerings include hot grilled cheeses and cheese cakes—not cheesecake, mind you, but gorgeous tiered arrangements of brie and other cheeses prepared for special occasions. Don’t miss their rare but generous happy hours on the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 6 p.m.
Wine Country Tip: If you plan on visiting more than once, the shop can create a profile for you to help keep track of which cheeses you’ve already tried, so you know which to get in the future.
GOAT CHEESE GALORE
Briar Rose Creamery
19231 NE Fairview Dr
Dundee, OR 97115
Tangier, Tempting, and Tasting
This remote cheese shop past where the pavement ends in the hills of Oregon specializes in both fresh and aged varieties of goat cheese, each one tangier and more tempting than the last. Stop by during their open hours on Friday or Saturday, and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of the cheese being made fresh in the back room while you enjoy a tasting of their seasonal offerings.
Wine Country Tip: If you want something sweeter than their chevre, try the truffles, which are made from the same goat cheese, but are covered in decadent chocolate.
MEAT AND CHEESE
502 E 1st St
Cle Elum, WA 98922
Smoked meats and flagship cheddar
One of Washington State’s longest-running family businesses, Owens Meats has been luring in hungry customers with the tantalizing smell of fresh and smoked meats for more than 125 years. They apply their smoking technique to their delicious flagship cheddar as well. Opposite their house-prepared meats, you’ll find shelves of flavorful hot sauces, jams, salsa, pickled goods, and craft beers—all wonderful complements to the main event.
Wine Country Tip: If you’re looking to combine the shop’s two tasty specialties, purchase the thicker cheese-stuffed pepperonis.
GRILLED CHEESE AND OTHERWISE
270 W San Antonio St
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Phone number (830) 214-6471
The roster or South Texas
The only cheese shop in South Texas is far better than it needs to be, given the lack of competition. The cheeses offered are diverse imports from all over the U.S. and Europe, and can be purchased on their own, or ordered as part of a light lunch made from scratch, whether that means a Manchego grilled cheese, watermelon-feta salad, or black truffle mac-and-cheese. Their impressive roster of accompaniments includes fresh fruit, loaves of bread, specialty beer and wine, and handmade chocolates.
Wine Country Tip: The shop has more than just food, as the walls are lined with wines for pairing and cheese accessories like fondue sticks and glassware all available for purchase.
SPICES, SPREADS AND MORE
The Cheese Shop
2366 Tinkling Spring Rd
Stuarts Draft, VA 24401
The Cheese Shop is far more than its title might suggest: rather, it’s a grocery store that emphasizes unique dairy products, as well as other bulk items like spreads, spices, and cold cuts that aren’t available elsewhere—at least not for such reasonable prices. The endlessly helpful staff members help to make the Cheese Shop one of the best places to buy the delicious local products produced throughout the rural Appalachian communities nearby.
Wine County tip: Be on the lookout for old-fashioned snacks and soft drinks you can’t find elsewhere these days, as well as handmade cheeses from Pennsylvania Dutch communities.
The World Class Cheese
If anything can make a great bottle of wine better, it’s a delicious block of cheese. The next time you’re exploring a new region by its vineyard varietals, don’t miss the added culinary pleasures available in spades at these world-class cheese shops.