I snagged a spot on one of the small, popular tours by e-mailing them as soon as the guide for the weekend became available. Throughout the rest of the year, you can get a tour of the caves with a cheese tasting as one of the classes at Murray's, but it costs $75. So this felt like a great opportunity.
Before the tour, while waiting for everyone to arrive, we headed to a classroom on Murray's upper level where some cheesemakers were and had a taste of a mild, young goats milk cheese from Vermont along with some sparkling wine.
The tour typically allows about 10 people to join. For our time slot, there were actually no-shows and some walk-ins were able to get in. We were given hairnets and led into the back doors, through a hallway in what looked like a stock area, down some stairs and another hallway — a real behind-the-scenes feel. It felt like we were being let in on a secret!
Our energetic and passionate tour guide was incredibly informative during the half-hour underground exploration into the world usually belonging only to the affineurs (the guardians of the cheese). When asked how she got her job at Murray's, she explained that she had worked in magazine publishing and used to take her clients to Murray's and eventually got an internship that turned into a full-time job.
wooden doors with large silver latches guarded the cheeses and piqued my curiosity. What would it look like inside? Which would we get to see?
The guide pulled open the first door. The small cave had carts stacked with metal trays of the newest cheeses, mostly soft, bloomy-rind ones like goat cheese. It smelled fermented, like — as the guide explained it was — milk spoiling, but in a controlled environment. Our guide went in and picked up some of the cheese to show us its characteristics.
After we resurfaced in the store and browsed the cheese offerings, we saw many of those cheeses we had just learned about. It was an afternoon well spent on a food excursion and a bit of cheese education!