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Cheese tastings meet the petting zoo at a handful of local fromage-making operations. And many now offer tours or classes. Some of these places are true farmsteads, with farmers milking the sheep or goats before dawn and then putting on their cheesemaking hats. For those who don’t appreciate long country drives, there will soon be a Metro-accessible option to see how cheese is made.

Everona Dairy

23246 Clarks Mountain Road, Rapidan, Va.

Type of cheese: Sheep

Tours: $20 per adult by appointment. Children are free.

This family farm has been making sheep cheese for more than 15 years not far from the Inn at Little Washington (which also serves its products—they’re available at the Dupont Circle farmers market on Sundays, too). Visiting the farm means meeting the sheep and lambs and sampling dozens of flavors. Sheep cheese has a milder flavor than goat; here, it’s made from raw milk that ferments in temperature-controlled rooms for at least 60 days.

Georges Mill Farm

11837 Georges Mill Road, Lovettsville, Va.

Type of cheese: Goat

Tours: Call (571) 442-7444 to make an appointment.

This small farmstead creamery has grown from just two goats to 29 since 2012. All the animals are raised without the use of chemicals or antibiotics, and all the cheese is made by hand. The farm offers a cheese CSA and sells its products at a handful of small retail stores plus the Leesburg farmers market. Look out for periodic cheesemaking classes.

Shepherds Manor Creamery

1126 Slingluff Lane, New Windsor, Md.

Type of cheese: Sheep

Tours: Between $6 and $15 per person, depending on the size of the group, by appointment.

Maryland’s first sheep-milking farm, this operation churns out yogurt and soap as well as cheese. The farm offers a cheese CSA for curd lovers and sells at several Washington-area farmers markets. Shepherds Manor’s cheese is currently served at Zaytinya and Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen. You can also buy it online at shepherdsmanorcreamery.com/sales.

Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Co.

16120 Barnesville Road, Boyds, Md.

Type of cheese: Goat

Tours: This sizable farmstead operation doesn’t offer tours to the public, but you can get the farm experience and sample their products at Willowsford Farm’s stand in Ashburn, Va.

Visit the farm stand at Willowsford Farm in Ashburn, Va., on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to taste Cherry Glen’s cheese and pet goats, while sampling other local products. Cherry Glen milks up to 150 Alpine, La Mancha, Saanen, and Toggenburg dairy goats twice a day to make its cheeses, one of which earned a blue ribbon from the American Cheese Society. This 58-acre farm and creamery sells five variations of soft-ripened cheese, as well as a chevre and ricotta, from pasteurized goat milk. Its products can be found at several D.C. markets and restaurants.

Sona Creamery

660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Type of cheese: All varieties. Raw cow’s milk sourced from a Virginia farm will soon be used to produce cheese on site.

Tour: Self-guided option includes drooling over the shiny cheese vat or samplings from the cheese counter for now.

The first District cheese creamery in history, at least so far as its owners could determine, Sona Creamery opened the doors of its cheese counter and restaurant at Eastern Market in January. Later this spring, passersby will be able to see cheese made in a giant vat showcased in the restaurant window—or learn more about the process through cheese-making classes hosted by the eatery’s cheesemongers.

Photos by Whitney Pipkin