Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese
Rush Creek now available, call to reserve 608.255.2430. If what Uplands cheesemaker Andy Hatch says is true -- that half of the secret to making Pleasant Ridge Reserve is simply getting out of the way of the milk and letting its unique properties and flavor profile shine through – then many would argue the other half to the secret of this near-perfect cheese is Andy Hatch himself. Andy joined the Uplands Cheese team near Dodgeville, WI, in 2007. With Mike Gingrich he continues to craft the one cheese that first put the Wisconsin artisan cheese community on the map. Made only from milk when the farm’s dairy cows are grazing on fresh grass, Pleasant Ridge Reserve is proudly sold at Fromagination and served at many of the nation’s finest restaurant.
Anne Topham, Fantôme Farm
Fresh goat chevre will never be the same after Anne Topham. A believer in the terroir lifestyle (the celebration of connections between the land, animals, and the people who interact between the two) Anne has established strong roots with the area surrounding her quaint farm near Ridgeway, WI. Starting out with just one little goat, Angie, Fantôme Farm has exploded into one of the most promising cheesemaking facilities in the midwest. Just one bite of Anne’s fresh goat cheese and it’s clear: this is serious business. Dare to taste the best goat cheese you’ve ever had.
Chris Roelli, Roelli Cheese
It took nearly a year for fourth generation cheesemaker Chris Roelli to perfect the recipe of Dunbarton Blue, one of the best and newest Wisconsin Original cheeses. One bite of this open-air cured, earthy cheddared-blue will make you glad he took his time. Imparting the feel of an English cheddar, but spiked with the delicate, subtle flavor of a fine blue, Dunbarton Blue is named after a neighboring local township between Shullsburg and Darlington, WI. The cheese is handcrafted in small batches and aged in the family’s historic aging cellar, where it ripens to perfection surrounded by a rock wall foundation. Fromagination also carries Roelli’s latest creation, Red Rock.
Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery
Brenda Jensen never planned on being a cheesemaker. Sure, she could blame her husband, Dean, for bringing home the first 50 sheep (or as she calls them, “the ladies”) five years ago to their farm near Westby, WI. But once she got her hands on the milk, she wanted to make cheese. Today, Brenda is recognized as one of the best sheep’s milk cheesemakers in the nation. Her hand-made Driftless cheese, named for the farm’s location in the “Driftless” part of the state – is soft and creamy and crafted in a variety of seasonal flavors with ingredients sourced locally. Her hard sheep’s milk cheeses, including Ocooch Mountain, Timber Coulee, and Meadow Melody, are mountain-style, raw-milk cheeses aged 3-4 months.
Willi Lehner, Bleu Mont Dairy
Although he’s been called an “off-the-grid rock star cheesemaker” by the New York Times, profiled as a “local hero” in Saveur Magazine, and captured on film yodeling in his underground cheese cave, Willi Lehner doesn’t let such accolades go to his head. A cheesemaker in the truest sense of the word, Willi relies on intuition and innovation to make some of the best hand-made cheese in America. You’ll find him every Saturday, rain or shine, at the Dane County farmer’s market in Madison, selling the fruits of his labor: the science and art we call cheese. We are proud to offer his Bandaged Cheddar and Alpine Renegade at Fromagination.
Sid Cook, Carr Valley Cheese
If Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook at Carr Valley Cheese in LaValle, WI was required to wear every medal, carry every trophy, and don every ribbon he’s ever won for making specialty cheeses, he wouldn’t be able to move under all the weight. Clocking in at more than 200 national and international awards in the past five years alone, the man officially is a cheese genius. As the inventor of at least 50 American Original cheeses -- meaning he simply made them up – it’s sometimes challenging to keep up with all the new cheeses Sid dreams up. But we keep trying.
Bruce Workman, Edelweiss Creamery
Bruce Workman has the distinction of being the only cheesemaker in North America making “Big Wheel Swiss." His Edelweiss Emmentaler, crafted in a historic cheese plant near Monticello, WI., is made using raw milk and a traditional Swiss copper vat. Each wheel weighs about 180 pounds and ages peacefully in the company’s cellars in Monroe. Edelweiss partners with a cooperative of dairy farmers dedicated to pasturing cows to bring a pure but complex flavor profile to a line of cheeses made from pastured milk. His Edelweiss Emmentaler is made only from the milk of these grass-fed cows, earning Bruce yet another distinction: grass-based cheesemaker.
Crave Brothers, Crave Bros. Farmstead Cheese
Being raised on a dairy farm surrounded by beautiful pastures and happy cows, you could say it was destiny that Charles, George, Thomas and Mark Crave ended up in the cheesemaking business. They started their farming careers in 1978 and have since created distinct cheeses that have received national attention. In addition to fresh mascarpone and mozzarella, Crave Bros.’ line of washed-rind cheeses truly shine. Les Frères ("the brothers" in French), an American Original, is a semi-firm cheese with earthy aromatic notes. Petit Frère, a smaller version, was recently reviewed in Bon Appetit Magazine and is proudly carried at Fromagination.
Joseph Widmer, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars
Joseph Widmer is a third generation cheesemaker. His cheesemaking plant in the small town of Theresa, WI is not only home to the cheeses Widmer’s produces, including their signature Brick cheese, Colby, and 2-Year cheddar, but home to the Master Cheesemaker himself. To say the cheesemaking business is intertwined with the life of the Widmer family is an understatement -- it is one and the same. Windmer’s cheese takes pride in producing cheese the old-fashioned way: tending to the milk in small batches and carefully crafting cheeses that have consistently delicious flavors and texture.
Marieke Penterman, Holland’s Family Farm
Originally hailing from the Netherlands, Marieke and her husband Rolf craft Goudas in the traditional Dutch style. So traditional, in fact, they flew over all of their cheesemaking equipment from Holland. Deliciously smooth and buttery, Marieke’s Goudas are requested by name all over the state; her smoked variety recently showed and won at the 2012 World Cheese Championship. Fromagination carries an ever-changing variety of her Goudas, including Young, Smoked, Garlic & Onion, Foenegreek, and Basil Pesto.
Tony Hook, Hook’s Cheese Company
Tony Hook started his cheese career as an apprentice in 1970. Now located in Mineral Point, WI., Tony and his college sweetheart, Julie, founded Hook’s Cheese Co. in 1976. The company has since expanded to what can only be called a cheese empire. Producing more than 40 varieties, Hook’s cheese continuously wins national and international awards year after year. Fromagination carries four Cheddar varieties (5-, 8-, 10-, and 12-year Cheddars) and a handful of delicious blues.
Katie Hedrich, LaClare Farms
For being the youngest female cheesemaker in the country, Katie Hedrich’s cheesemaking career isn’t too shabby: after being awarded the first-ever Wisconsin Licensed Cheesemaker scholarship, her goat’s milk cheese, Evalon, won Best in Show in the 2011 U.S. Cheese Championship. She hopes to become the first ever female Master Goat Milk Cheesemaker. She and her family produce a variety of goat’s milk cheese from LaClare Farms near Chilton, WI. Fromagination carries both young and aged Evalon.
Meister Cheese Company LLC
The history of the Meister Cheese Company runs three generations, all the way back to 1916. One way Meister Cheese is a pioneer cheesemaking company is through its use of waste: it was the first company in Wisconsin to see the potential of processing the waste whey into lactose and protein. The company also uses local leftover woodchips from a neighboring lumber yard as an alternative to fossil fuels. Talk about inventive!
Saxon Homestead Creamery
This farm has a sturdy background: it has grown since 1848 into a fifth generation, family-operated creamery with over 450 cows. The cattle graze on young spring grasses, summer foliage, and autumn greens. Their cheeses are embossed with a "blowing leaf" motif on the exterior rind -- it both symbolizes the families’ connection with nature and serves as a throwback to the popular Art Nouveau style from the German state, Saxony. Fromagination is proud to carry Saxon Creamery’s award-winning cheeses, Big Ed’s, Saxony, and Greenfields,