The texture. The tanginess. The terroir. The temptation. Cheese is irresistibly delicious and infused with all the complexities of fine wine. But you don’t have to get technical to reach the most important conclusion: the palate knows what it loves and, for a ton of folks, that ardor leans heavily toward cheese. The USDA says the average American eats 37 pounds annually, and while there’s no telling how much of that consumption happens right here, you can bet cheese-lovin’ South Carolinians are happily representing.
Dairy farms and creameries across the Palmetto State are rich sources of tasty, small-batch cheeses. Our skilled cheesemakers take pride in their wares, be it wheels of nutty Gouda, bricks of salty feta, mounds of sweet ricotta or one of the many other cheeses that issue from their dedicated facilities.
The not-so-secret ingredient in all this goodness? Lots of fresh milk supplied by SC farms. Be it cow-, goat- or sheep-sourced, it is the foundation of all cheeses. Some cheese-making operations use milk from their own herds, while others look to their favorite local farms to supply the key ingredient. Whether they end up with a cheddar or a Havarti largely comes down to the processes that distinguish varieties through color, smell, texture, firmness, fat content and, of course, flavor. The results are amazing, mouthwatering cheeses made with a dedication to wholesomeness and infused with South Carolina goodness.
Consult the South Carolina Cheese Map for a fromage adventure that is sure to deepen your appreciation for what goes into making artisanal cheeses. Hit a few or several—whatever fits your schedule. Discover new varieties to add to your list of favorites and, at some stops, take a tour to learn about the cheesemaker’s processes and the animals supplying the milk. Not all of these establishments are open to the public, but their cheeses are available from area markets and retailers. Check the websites or call ahead for local buying information. For those that do welcome the public, call for hours of operation, accepted methods of payment and available products.
Now, smile, grab the keys and say, “SC cheese, please!”
Whispering Pines, Seneca Cheeses: Golden Manchego, pecorino, ricotta salata, ricotta, feta, Mauldinian, Oconee Jack, Halloumi and various sweet and savory soft cheeses made from their own goat or sheep milk. Where to buy: Purchase from the farm’s on-site store; call ahead for service. Tours: Yes; also offers camps, classes and other events throughout the year; call for info.
Split Creek Farm, Anderson Cheeses: Marinated feta, marinated feta with olives, feta in brine, dry wrap feta, fromage blanc, chevre made from their own Grade A goat milk. Where to buy: Purchase from the farm’s on-site store and various retail outlets; see website for details. Tours: Yes; self-guided visitation offered Fridays and Saturdays; guided tours available by appointment.
Forx Farm, Anderson Cheeses: Offers 10 flavors of artisan Gouda and colby made from locally sourced raw milk. Where to buy: Purchase directly from Forx Farm or find their cheeses at various Upstate markets; see a list here. Tours: Not offered.
Possum Kingdom Kreamery, Belton Cheeses: Spreadable chevre in a variety of flavors, including garlic and basil, cinnamon honey and pecan, lavender and honey and chipotle. Also offers marinated and dry feta. Where to buy: Purchase at the PKK farm store and various Upstate markets; visit the website for details. Tours: Yes; farm and store are open to the public; guided tours by appointment.
Milky Way Farm, Starr Cheeses: Raw milk Gouda Where to buy: Purchase from the farm (call ahead) or visit their website for a list of retailers. Tours: Not offered.
Happy Cow Creamery, Pelzer Cheeses: Butter cheese, Wisconsin cheddar, hoop cheese, Havarti and dill, white cheddar and onion, smoked provolone, blueberry cheddar, morel/leek and more made from milk from their own herds. Where to buy: Purchase at the onsite store or check their website for a list of retailers. Tours: Yes; must schedule in advance; see website for details.
Blue Ridge Creamery, Travelers Rest Cheeses: Hand-crafted cheeses, including migration washed-rind, Mont Sassafras 18-month Grand Reserve alpine-style cheese, Chattooga Blue and Jocassee Tomme. Where to buy: Purchase from the cheese shop (limited operating hours) or online at their website. Tours: Not offered.
Clemson University, Clemson Cheeses: Legendary Clemson Blue Cheese made with milk from alumni farm, Hickory Hills, in Edgefield. Where to buy: Purchase on campus, from area retailers or online; find sales info here. Tours: Not offered.
Old English District
Fishing Creek Creamery, Chester Cheeses: Goat milk cheeses made with milk from their herd; chevre flavors include garlic and chive, maple walnut, cranberry walnut, classic and the Fishing Creek’s original Spiderbite, flavored with honey and a shot of ghost pepper. Where to buy: Purchase at the farm, area farmers markets and retailers. Tours: Not offered; check the website for special events.
Thomas Family Farms, Clover Cheeses: Gourmet goat cheese feta (crumbled, marinated, block), chevre (plain and herbed) and spreads. Where to buy: Purchase from the farm by appointment and from area markets and retailers. Tours: Not offered.
Hickory Hill Milk, Edgefield Cheeses: Supplies the milk for Clemson Blue Cheese. Where to buy: Purchase from the “honor cooler” on the porch of the milk plant or from Clemson University and various retailers; find info here. Tours: Yes; find tour schedule and dates of other events here.
Turner’s Farm Fresh, Bowman Cheeses: Cows’ milk cheese curds and block cheeses, including pepper jack, tomato basil, dill, blue and cheddar. Where to buy: Purchase from area farmers markets; call for info on home delivery. Tours: Not available.
Thoroughbred Country Trail Ridge Farm & Dairy, Aiken Cheeses: Goat milk cheeses; chevre in a variety of flavors; marinated and crumbled feta. Where to buy: Purchase from markets and retailers across the state; see a list here. Tours: Yes; see website for current information.
Coastal and Islands
Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse, Charleston Cheeses: Artisan brie, hand-pulled mozzarella, burrata, raw milk cheddar and more made from Hickory Hill Farm milk and cultured, mixed, molded, salted, aged, wrapped, labeled and stamped by hand. Where to buy: Curbside pickup and local delivery. Tours: Not offered.
Hope Haven Farm, Harleyville Cheeses: Goat milk cheeses, including chevre and feta. Where to buy: Purchase at the farm or area markets. Tours: Yes; call for availability.
The Goatery on Kiawah River, Johns Island Cheeses: Variety of goat milk cheeses; call for details. Where to buy: Call the farm for appointment and to check cheese availability. Tours: Yes; find info on tours and other events here.