In the Field

Where to Find Artisanal Cheese in the Deep South

By: Hannah Lee Leidy

In honor of American Cheesemakers Month in May, the Local Palate is exploring the artisan cheese and cheesemakers creating a tasty way of exploring the Deep South.

While not traditionally being thought of as a cheese making destination, the Southern states have released quality creations over the past decade that put the region in the national spotlight. The list of cheeses from rural Appalachia to green pastures in the Southeast act as reflections of their homelands, combining terroir, agriculture, and craftsmanship. “The fact that [a specific type of cheese] can’t be produced anywhere else in the world is such a romantic notion,” says Padgett Arnold of Sequatchie Cove Creamery in Tennessee. 

Platter of Pure Luck Dairy Cheeses, from our list of cheeses in the Deep South
Image by Becky Stayner

Drawn to the notion of elusive, edible terroir, cheeseheads are hitting the road in search of award-winning fetas, decadent double-creams, stinky taleggio, and Alpine-style wheels. Some creameries are even destinations in and of themselves, with offers like farm days, creamery tours, or Airbnbs housed within the barn. 

It’s a funky, fresh, gastronomical adventure. Let this be your expertly curated list of cheeses and cheesemakers offering top-rate tastes of what makes the Deep South’s artisanal cheese scene so special.

The Cheese Scene in the Deep South

Cheesemaker stirring vat of cheese curds at Pure Luck Dairy Creamery

The Deep South‘s dairy industry reflects the area’s range of temperatures and environments, from the dry hill country in Texas to the Louisiana Bayou. Texas cheese culture is the most established. Lots of small, farmstead creameries used to dot the state, mostly cow dairies, but many have left in the past decade, moving north and east in search of better access to key resources like water and feed. However, as the number of cow dairies dwindled, the artisan cheese movement started to take hold and even brought about water buffalo creameries, including Oro Bianco in Blanco, Texas, and Bayou Sarah Farm in St. Francisville, Louisiana. For those who were enamored with the idea of making their own cheese, goats presented a foray into the business at a smaller, more manageable level.

Sara Sweetser was one such pioneer. Back in the 1980s, she bought an 11-acre plot of land outside Austin. There, she and her daughters grew and sold herbs and vegetables at local markets under the name Pure Luck Farm. In 1995, Sweetser procured a small herd of goats and started making her own cheeses, too. The community celebrated her Greek-style feta and herbed chevre, and the concurrent rise of Whole Foods and Central Market furthered her audience base. Pure Luck Dairy soon became a cornerstone within the burgeoning artisan cheese movement, known for its consistency and, today, its longevity. Now, Sweetser’s daughter Amelia Sweethardt oversees Pure Luck Dairy, and the products are regular winners at American Cheese Society competitions.

A Quick List of Cheeses We Love in the Deep South


The only buffalo milk creamery in the state, Oro Bianco makes gelato and robiola, feta, and blue cheeses. Their creamery has a cafe overlooking the production facility, so drop by for a scoop of gelato and an espresso.


Owner Susan Riggs pursued her passion for transforming Texas terroir into a palatable experience with an irresistible collection of gouda, tomme, blue, cheddar, and mascarpone. You can visit and shop from the creamery’s facilities in Schertz, where tours and guided tastings are held monthly.

SWEET FREEDOM CHEESE | Bentonville, Arkansas

This Bentonville cheese counter is a trove of products from Indiana, California, Iowa, and Vermont in good company with cheeses from Spain, Switzerland, France, and Italy.

Feta cheese from Pure Luck Dairy tops our list of favorite cheeses from the Deep South
Image by Becky Stayner

What We’re Eating: Feta

From Pure Luck Dairy

This goat’s milk, Greek-style feta gets its snappy salinity from four weeks of aging in a brine solution. It crumbles beautifully, and you can actually see the pressed curds within the cheese’s structure.

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