Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

#P6 Profile: Uplands Cheese

Posted by Charlene Elderkin on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 @ 08:34 AM

Andy.webThe beginning of Uplands Cheese dates back to 1994 just north of Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Farming neighbors for many years, Mike and Carol Gingrich and Dan and Jeanne Patenaude found a beautiful ridge top farm nearby and they decided to purchase it together. The two families merged their small dairy herds and began rotationally grazing the cows on the farm’s 20 verdant pastures. They also sought to produce milk in a different way. Rather than milking their cows year round, they wanted their dairy to be seasonal – they only milked the cows from May-October. This type of schedule allowed the cows, and farmers, a little time to rest during the winter.

Through their focus on seasonal rotational grazing, they began producing extremely high quality milk. They quickly realized that this milk was taking extra time and money to produce and, as a result, they sought to add value to it. In 2000, they began working with local cheesemakers and the UW Center for Dairy Research to develop their own cheese: Pleasant Ridge Reserve.

Pleasant Ridge is modeled after hard aged Beaufort and Gruyere cheeses common in the Alpine regions of Switzerland and France. It is a hard raw milk cheese produced only when the cows are eating fresh grass on the farm, from May-October. Once the cheese is made, it is aged in cellars on the farm from anywhere from 4-12 months.

From its humble beginnings, Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve is now one of the most award winning cheeses in the United States. It has won the American Cheese Society Best of Show three times (2001, 2005, 2010) as well as the US Championship Cheese Contest (2003). In 2008, Andy Hatch, a former Uplands cheesemaking assistant, took over as head cheesemaker and operations manager. To learn more about Uplands Cheese, visit their website:
Be sure to pick up some Uplands Cheese Pleasant Ridge Reserve from the VFC Cheese Section.

Uplands Cheese is part of the P6 program at the VFC because:

Local: Located just north of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, 51 miles from VFC
Small-Producer: Upland Cheese is a small, family-owned business. Their cheese is sold directly to the VFC.

Tags: P6 Producers, Local