Karen Mickler and Bruce DeGroot

Credit: Sam English

Owners, Yellow Branch Cheese

Maker: Other Maker

Yellow Branch Farm is located in western North Carolina, near Fontana Lake in Graham County. The farm is the named for the branch that flows by the farm and empties into Fontana Lake. Karen Mickler and Bruce DeGroot and family acquired the farm in 1981, adding a jersey milk cow named Rosebud. Learning to make cheese soon followed. Licensed in 1986, Yellow Branch Cheese is celebrating 33 years as a pioneer in the artisanal cheese movement in the United States. The cheeses are widely distributed in Western North Carolina and the Southeast U.S.

Farmstead cheeses are traditionally made from the milk of a farm's own herd. The dairy is pasture-based, and the pastures are managed using sustainable, organic practices. No herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers or growth hormones are used.

Yellow Branch Cheese is made by hand in small batches following an original recipe that Karen developed and Bruce refined. The distinctive flavor results from the high-quality fresh milk, flavored by the nutritious pasture grasses, Celtic Sea Salt™ and starter culture that is produced in-house.

Yellow Branch Cheese is a versatile table cheese with a buttery, full-bodied flavor and pairs well a wide range of food and beverages. The varieties are farmstead, basil, jalapeño pepper, beer, tomato-basil, natural rind and natural rind reserve.

Karen established Yellow Branch Pottery in 1984 and is well known for her distinctive, functional pots and unique, original glazes. Visitors are welcome at the pottery and farm where the cheeses may be sampled and purchased.



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