Who doesn’t love cheese? Skip the grocery stores when you’re traveling to try out local artisanal cheese at the source on a farm. South Africa is an oasis for wineries and farms, and this include dairy farms where cheeses are carefully made with their own personal touch. While many people visit wineries during their visit the country, it’s strongly advised to also explore some of the most fabulous cheese farms, too. Here are the best artisanal cheese farms in South Africa you must check out.
Klein River Farmstead
Located in Overberg in Western Cape, this idyllic farmstead is nestled at the foothills of mountains and has been serving foodies for the past 20 years. Visitors can swing by Klein River Farmstead anytime from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to taste its artisan cheese platter that consists of several of its homemade cheeses. The treats come in four different styles; washed curd cheese, hard cheese, brushed rind cheese and young cheese. Plan on coming when the weather’s fantastic so you can lounge outdoors with a picnic to enjoy the view of the mountains, lush forest and river. Bring the kids, there’s a Playful Kids Picnic Platter where they can snack on goods like popcorn and muffins. The farm also works hard to maintain its sustainability in cheese-making by using solar power and compost.
A short drive outside of Paarl in Western Cape is the small town of Simondium, where a gorgeous cheese farm thrives. Dalewood Fromage is a farm that has its own cheese shop where visitors can buy batches of the freshest Camembert, brie, bleu and other signature cheeses made right on the premises. Farm owner, Rob Visser uses an eco-friendly approach to making the cheese and raises cream-colored, free-roaming Jersey cows. The farm prides itself on not using growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics to provide the healthiest cheeses to his customers possible. He also does not use artificial fertilizers, insecticides or weed killers to maintain perfectly healthy cows as they feed on the green pastures. The cheese shop is open from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3:oo p.m. for guests to stock up on cheese as well as other goods.
Fairview Wine and Cheese
Combine your love of wine and cheese at this Paarl location where a rustic farm meets an extravagant lifestyle. At Fairview Farm, guests will pull up to a stunning estate surrounded by a vineyard, grazing cows and goats. Once inside, foodies will be pleasantly surprised by its incredibly charming restaurant called “The Goatshed” serving farm-to-table fare in a luxury atmosphere. There, you can order delicious artisan cheese made onsite from its dairy cows and its handcrafted wines. Don’t feel like all there is to do is eat in its restaurant, because you’ll be able to explore the farm and visit the Goat Tower where the animals literally climb up a tower and a bridge. On select days, you can even join a session of goat yoga offered at the farm that’s proving to be a popular hit among visitors. Don’t forget to take home some cheese or bottled wine as souvenirs at its own shop before you leave. The philosophy of the farm is to support multiple small businesses which is why you’ll come across so many handcrafted goods in one setting. Guests can also try their cheese tasting in its wine tasting room to pair their dairy snacks with several glasses of vino.
Since 1992, Swissland Cheese has been a hidden gem in Pietermaritzburg. Foodies will comes across Saanen Goats roaming freely alongside dairy cows at the farm. Cheesemaker, Francine Isaac believes the key ingredient to making superb cheese is raising happy animals to produce healthier milk. Hailing from Switzerland, Isaac sought to recreate her homeland and the rolling hills of Pietermartizburg provides a similar atmosphere. The family-friendly farm allows children to view a milking demonstration, feed goats, and if they’re lucky, witness a live birth of a baby goat. Cheese varieities found at the farm shop include Drakensberg, brie, chevre, creamed cheese, St. Maure, pecorino and more. Be sure to monitor the farm’s website to catch any upcoming live outdoor music events that take place at the farm.
Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij
In Skeerpoort (near Johannesburg), Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij offers guests guided tours around the land and cheese factory. Visitors will get a glimpse of behind-the-scene cheese-making as well as visit the farm animals. Come hungry, you’ll want to dine at its Van Gaalen Restaurant to sample quality cheese. Afterwards, explore the area or play a game or two using its larger-than-life chess game on its courtyard. The cheese farm has its own hiking trail access to explore the Magaliesberg mountains.
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