The von Trapp Farmstead Farm Store sells their own award-winning artisanal organic cheese and yogurt, whey-fed pork and beef along with other products from local area farms.

Werner von Trapp was portrayed as “Kurt” in “The Sound of Music,” the iconic Hollywood story written about his family made famous in 1965. Werner met his soon-to-be wife Erika while she was visiting the Green Mountain State on a break from where she was studying agriculture in Austria. They married and started the farm in Waitsfield, VT, in 1959.

Erika and Werner’s son Martin von Trapp (who recently passed away) and his wife Kelly operate an organic dairy. The cattle are raised on rotational grazing and the farm’s own hay, producing organic milk and offering milk CSAs. The dairy provides the milk used by Martin’s son, Sebastian von Trapp, and his wife Molly Semler.

Martin’s brother Tobias and his wife Sally started the von Trapp Greenhouses, and have since closed their business to the public but offer seasonal tours. Their daughter Emily von Trapp carries on their tradition of offering flowers by selling tulips and offering tulip CSAs.

Sebastian and Molly’s Mad River Blue cheese won Gold at the 2022 World Cheese Awards. Mad River Blue also earned a Good Food Award in 2022. Their Savage cheese won Bronze at the 2022 World Cheese Awards as well.

Their Mt. Alice won a 2021 Good Food Award, earned Bronze at the 2019 World Cheese Awards and won third place in the 2017 American Cheese Awards, among others.

The von Trapp Farmstead Farm Store

Molly Semler, wife of Sebastian von Trapp, with the farm-produced beef, cheese, pork and eggs sold at the Von Trapp Farmstead Farm Store. Photo by Laura Rodley

Sebastian and Molly’s twins, the fourth generation on the farm, Sylvie and Dean, are three-and-a-half-years-old and already have a hand in the business – as part of the tasting team.

The milking herd consists of 45 mixed breed cows with Jersey genetics, Normandes, Montbéliardes and Ayshires that graze on the 150-acre farm. The farmstead, creamery and cheesemaking employs four full-time and five part-time employees.

Sebastian and Molly’s first cheese was named Oma, for Sebastian’s grandmother, Erika von Trapp, who he credits with making the farm possible.

They are proud of producing cheeses that bring to the public the flavors of the land upon which the cows are raised, and are therefore particular only to their pastures, much like winemakers are proud of their vintages that reflect the terroir and its specific growth habitat.

“You can’t produce the same thing anywhere else,” said Molly.

Their equation for cheesemaking perfection includes where the cows are pastured, what rotation they’re on and when they are milked. They use the freshest milk possible. All this is considered for the timing of when to cut the cheese in the cheese vats, but they rely on their hands and the firmness of the whey to give them the final say of when to slice into it.

They practice regenerative farming, working constantly to improve the soil fertility. Dairy management includes raising and harvesting hay to feed the cows and felling trees for firewood. The dairy also raises a herd of about 50 whey-fed heritage breed pigs that provide the pork for the sausage sold at the farmstead store.

A separate business under the family name is the von Trapp Brewery in Stowe, VT, that provides the award-winning beer to make their seasonal beer-washed cheese, Drunk Alice, sold in the von Trapp Bierhall in Stowe as well as in the farm store.

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by Laura Rodley