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8 Best Ontario Cheese Producers to Try!

It really goes without saying but we make some pretty damn good cheese here in Ontario! We're truly spoiled with the quality and variety of cheeses produced by our local cheese makers. And, at The Market at 100km Foods, we're lucky to partner with some of the very best in the game.

We're going to introduce you to a handful of our favourite Ontario cheese producers we work with (in no particular order), give you a sneak peak inside their production process and our go-to cheeses from each producer available through The Market at 100km Foods!

1. Ontario Cheese By Mountainoak Cheese

“Farming is not only an occupation, it’s a way of living.” – Adam Van Bergeijk.

Wise words from the owner of Mountainoak cheese, Rick Mercer’s favourite dairy farmer and cheesemaker!

Adam and Hannie Van Bergeijk are the owners of Mountainoak located in New Hamburg, ON. Their son Arjo and his wife Baukje help to run the farm.

Being a true family business, it only makes sense that the name ‘Mountainoak’ comes from their family name! The English translation of their Dutch family name, “Van Bergeijk”, means “from the mountain oak.”

History of Mountainoak Cheese

Originally, Adam and Hannie were dairy farmers from the Netherlands. They became interested in cheese making, and in the early 1980s, they attended an artisanal cheese making school that had a 300 year history of making Gouda style cheese.

The cheeses they made in Holland grew in popularity, but eventually, they wanted to expand their dairy farm. Thus, they decided to immigrate to Canada, where they purchased their first farm in Wilmot Township in September 1996.

In the beginning, they actually had no plans to continue making cheese. Instead they wanted to focus on raising their herd. As Adam and Hannie’s sons grew older and began to take over the farming and dairy herd duties, Adam and Hannie moved back towards making artisanal Dutch goudas.

At first, this was just for personal consumption, but as the popularity of their cheeses grew, they decided to officially go into the cheese making business! So when it came time to brand their business, the name Mountainoak just made sense — Mountainoak milk should be made into Mountainoak cheese!


Mountainoak Cheese Production Process

As Adam explains, "everything you do with your cows is gonna be paid back in your milk". This is a philosophy they put into practice at Mountainoak.

On 325 hectares of land, they grow feed, care for, and milk their own herd of over 400 dairy cows. They use the 11,000 litres of high quality milk produced yearly to turn into their delicious artisanal cheeses.

By being so involved with each step of the process, they ensure that their milk has as much flavour as possible. This is reflected in the superior quality of the carefully crafted cheeses they produce.

They also care about ensuring the environmental sustainability of their farm for future generations. Right now, their fresh water source for cheese production comes from a well, which requires softening and reverse osmosis to make it suitable for cheese making. 

They had an assessmentdone by the Bloom Centre for Sustainability in conjunction with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario to see where they could conserve water use and be as efficient as possible. By doing so, the managed to reduce their water use by 25-30%!

Since completing their assessment, they're evaluating other systems to increase water collection, such as recycling rainwater. All of this is done with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint of dairy farming and cheese making. This is something we’re totally on board with here at 100km Foods!

Mountainoak Cheese Must-Tries!

The cheese varieties they produce are delectable and award winning! Their Farmstead Gold is a full flavoured farmstead gouda that exudes hints of butterscotch and caramel that's aged for 18 months.

The list of awards this cheese has won is extensive, including the Reserve Grand Champion at the 2016 Royal Winter Fair, as well as 1st place in the British Empire Cheese Competition in 2015!

Their Farmstead Medium was a finalist at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2015, and is a perfect everyday cheese! It has a smooth and creamy texture that makes it a great choice on a sandwich or melted in your favourite recipe.

Lastly their Black Truffle Gouda is uniquely aromatic and often thought of as a cheese to be saved for special occasions. This cheese has a flavour that separates it from all others. A gourmet product for connoisseurs of fine food.

Try some today and let us know what you think!

2. Ontario Cheese By Thornloe Cheese Co.

Next up in our list of some top Ontario cheese producers is Thornloe Cheese Co. As many of you may know, we have a variety of amazingly tasty artisanal cheeses from Thorloe.

Thornloe is located in Temiskaming Valley, part of the Canadian Shield surrounded by the Boreal forest of Northeastern Ontario. The region is called the “Little Clay Belt,” which is also home to many Amish and Mennonite farming communities.

History of Thornloe Cheese

Thornloe Cheese has a long history – it was first opened in 1940 by Rene Laframboise. At the time, Rene employed just two people and used 900lbs of milk!

Through the years, Thornloe was owned and operated by various partners in the region. At peak production, Thornloe was processing 40,000,000 litres of milk per year, running almost 24 hrs a day.

In 1997, Parmalat took over the cheese making plant, and continued to produce high quality cheese products until 2006. At this time, the operation nearly closed.

However, a group of sustainably-minded farmers and Gencor came together to form a partnership to save Thornloe.

In 2019, Thornloe Cheese was bought by Gay Lea Foods. Gay Lea Foods Chair Rob Goodwill said, "Thornloe Cheese has a long and storied history in northern Ontario and holds a special place in the hearts of northern dairy farmers and consumers alike.

We are pleased to keep Thornloe Cheese Co. in the hands of a wholly Canadian dairy farmer-owned co-operative and help keep northeastern Ontario's rich agricultural legacy alive."

Thornloe Cheese Production Process

Like Mountainoak, the farmers and cheese makers at Thornloe understand that their product is only as good as the quality of milk that goes into it. Thus, they source high-quality milk directly from nearby farmers, who feed the animals a diet primarily consisting of barley, grass and silage (as opposed to corn).

This results in creamier milk with a higher fat content and translates into the exceptional line of cheeses Thornloe has on offer.

Thornloe Cheese Must-Tries!

At 100km Foods, we predominantly carry their blue cheese varieties, which are part of their “Taste of Place” line. Casey and and Devil’s rock are iconic locations in the region.

The Casey Blue is a bolder, semi-soft and flakey blue cheese.

Devil’s Rock is a lighter, creamier blue and is easily recognizable by its pyramid shape, dipped in black wax.

Devil's rock is named for the breathtaking lookout point in the area of the same name.

We also have a fantastic firm, Smoked Mozzarella with a robust, smokey flavour.

3. Ontario Cheese By Back Forty Artisan Cheese

Located along the banks of Eastern Ontario’s Mississippi River, Back Forty Artisan Cheese is a small farm and sheep dairy processor. Established in the year 2000, Back Forty is amongst the first sheep milk cheese producers in the Country.

All of the raw sheep milk which is used to craft their traditional unpasteurized cheeses comes from five carefully selected nearby family run farms.

Back Forty believes in a more traditional, hands on approach to cheese making. They are a small owner operated, family run business with a primary goal of providing unique and great tasting cheeses that capture the terroir and flavor of the rustic and beautiful Ottawa valley.

Back Forty Artisan Cheese Production

With a core focus on animal welfare, land stewardship, quality home grown feed and pasture, these farms are able to achieve the highest quality milk, which is carefully refined into the most delicious cheese through the natural process of fermentation.

Back Forty believes in a more traditional, hands on approach to cheese making. They are a small owner operated, family run business with a primary goal of providing unique and great tasting cheeses that capture the terroir and flavor of the rustic and beautiful Ottawa valley.

Back Forty Cheese Must-Tries!

Back Forty's Bonnechere has a moderate aroma of smouldering wood due to the rind being toasted over an open flame before aging. This tasty cheese has a long finish with flavours of citrus and slightly sour hickory smoke.

Flower Station is another must-try cheese in the Back Forty line. It has an authentic taste of the Mediterranean and really wakes up your taste buds!

A tangy and rich blue cheese, their Highland Blue has a natural rind and delicate overtones of blue mold, combined with butter and mushroom. It is full-flavoured, earthy and savoury with less salt and acidity than many blues.

Back Forty has a small shop and patio at their dairy that is open during summer season so make sure you make it out for a visit and to try their incredible cheeses.

Jeff and Jenna also say they have hopes of one day starting a small restaurant and a collection of cabins for rent on their land. Sounds like heaven!

Visit the farm and tasting room located in Mississippi Station, any Saturday from June – October. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook

4. Ontario Cheese By Stonetown Cheese

Stonetown Cheese has a simple motto: "Life is great. Cheese makes it better."

At Stonetown Cheese, Hans and Jolanda Weber share in this sentiment. In fact, it is this belief, along with farming, that motivated them to immigrate to Canada in 1996.

With their three children, they began a new life in St. Marys, Ontario where they started their own dairy farm. Having previously worked in the Swiss Alps, it was always their dream to produce delicious, high quality cheese reminiscent of the renowned Swiss Mountain cheeses and made from their own milk.

With a profound commitment to creating cheese of the highest quality, the support of their family and Master Cheese Maker, Ramon Eberle, from Switzerland, their humble dream became a reality in 2015.

Stonetown Cheese Production

Stonetown's cheeses are handcrafted, alpine style cheeses. This means they are low in sodium and made with fresh whole cow’s milk. They use unpasteurized, additive-free cow's milk from their family farm to obtain a superior taste. This ensures the cheese is pure, natural and of the highest quality.

Their commitment to produce high quality cheese is best reflected in the care they give to their Holstein cows. They live in a clean and comfortable free stall barn, sleep year round on beach sand and enjoy the best quality feed.

Stonetown Cheese Must-Tries!

Stonetown's Homecoming cheese is a crowd favourite amongst 100km Foods customers, and for a good reason. Homecoming is a Tilsit-style semi-soft cheese with a natural milky texture and nutty flavour. It's aged 3-4 months and pairs well with beer or any drink for that matter!

Next up is one of our best Stonetown sellers, and first place winner at the 2018 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Stonetown's Farmstead Emmental. This firm cheese is aged 3-5 months and has a natural sweet, yet somehow also savoury, nutty flavour.

Stonetown's Game Changer cheese had to make this list. Game Changer is extremely creamy and is soaked in Vineland Estates Winery's Game Changer red wine.

Last, but certainly not least, their Wildwood appenzeller style cheese is another all-time favourite amongst 100km Foods staff! It is a natural cheese that is smeared with wine yeast, crafting a rustic look and a distinct taste, aroma and flavor. Delicious on rustic bread, by itself on a cheese platter with fruits, or in grilled cheese sandwiches. 

5. Ontario Cheese By Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese

Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese is a small, artisanal dairy located in Woodstock, Ontario owned by Shep Ysselstein. Shep crafts small-batch cheeses made with a marked Swiss influence. His family has been farming in the region since the 1950s. 

Gunn's Hill Cheese Production Process

Shep sources all the milk for their line of Gunn's Hill cheeses from his family farm.

Check out this video to get a behind the scenes look at their cheese production process!

Gunn's Hill Cheese Must-Tries!

If you've never tried Gunn's Hill Brigid's Brie, you're missing out on brie perfection! This soft surface ripened cheese is made with cow's milk and is is free of stabilizers and preservatives. This is why it's sold with a 'best between' date, with every batch aged six weeks to preserve it's creamy centre.

Handeck is one of Gunn's Hill's most popular cheese with 100km Foods customers. This cheese was named after the town in Switzerland where Shep studied cheese making. Handeck is a Swiss-style, hand-crafted washed rind cow's milk cheese, that is delicately aged on cedar wood planks giving the cheese a robust flavour.

5 Brothers is another must-try! This cow's milk cheese is a hybrid between a Gouda and an Appenzeller. 

6. Ontario Cheese By Best Baa Dairy

Best Baa Dairy is a small dairy in Fergus, Ontario owned by Peter and Nicole Bzikot. In 1998, they moved their flock from Manitoba to Ontario. After researching European production of sheep's milk cheese, they discovered their flock was the best breed to produce milk for cheese!

Sheep's milk retains the same volume when turned into cheese, which removes the need for thickeners. It's a great alternative for those who are sensitive to cow's milk!

Best Baa Dairy Production Process

Best Baa Dairy uses non-homogenized ewe's milk as the basis for most of their cheeses, and source their milk from within 100km of their facility!

They source milk from farmers who pasture feed their flocks in the warmer months and supply them with alfalfa hay in winter. They don't supplement their diets with corn or soya products. Their packaging is recyclable and BPA free.

They also prioritize animal welfare in their production and understand that they are stewards of the land. They utilize the 'Five Freedoms' guidelines for their herd, which comprises of freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from fear and disease; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain and injury; and freedom from to express natural, normal behaviour.

Best Baa Dairy Must-Tries!

Their traditional Greek-style feta is in a league of its own! It's tangy with subtle hints of lemon. This feta is ridiculously delicious on its own and is the perfect addition to enhance virtually any dish!

7. Ontario Cheese By Quality Cheese

Located in Vaughan, Quality Cheese is owned and operated by Albert, Joseph and William Borgo - AKA the Borgo Brothers. They specialize in making award winning traditional Italian style cheeses.

The passion they have for cheese making truly translates into the exceptional quality — pun intended — of Quality Cheese cheeses.

Quality Cheese Production Process

Quality Cheese uses only the freshest milk and ingredients in their cheese production process. They pay careful attention to every detail, and use the best practices and techniques to make fantastic local cheeses!

Quality Cheese Must-Tries!

The first Quality Cheese must-try would have to be their Bella Casa Burrata. This fresh cheese has the most perfect sweet flavour, soft smooth exterior and a textured, creamy centre.

Next, their Bella Casa Ricotta is another favourite! Their sweet, creamy ricotta is made with pasteurized whey, pasteurized buffalo milk, citric acid, and salt. Simple ingredients paired with expert craftsmanship yield this incredible cheese. Perfect in stuffed pastas!

8. Ontario Cheese By Bright Cheese and Butter

Bright Cheese and Butter is the oldest surviving dairy producing cheddar in Ontario. It began as a group of farmers who wanted to use up a surplus of milk from production. By the 1900’s, cheddar cheese was actually Canada’s second biggest export! 

At that time, over 1,242 cheddar factories existed in Ontario, Bright’s Dairy being one of the many. Though much has changed since then, Bright’s Dairy still operates out of the very same factory they have since 1874!

Bright Cheese & Butter Production Process

Bright Cheese & Dairy follows conventional growing practices using local ingredients. They are well known for producing all natural, naturally-aged cheese made with 100% local milk using traditional methods.

Bright Cheese Must-Tries!

Their aged white cheddar cheese is a must-try! It has a strong flavour profile, with a distinguished taste and a slightly crumbly texture. It's an excellent choice for cheese boards or to make the meanest grilled cheese sandwich!

Stock Up On Your Favourite Ontario Cheeses at The Market at 100km Foods!

We really have some of the world's best cheeses here in Ontario and this article just scratches the surface of all the incredible local cheese makers and varieties Ontario has to offer!