The amazing thing about Wisconsin Cheesemakers is that there are so many great ones close together. The morning after the Gathering of the Cheddar Makers, I headed a half hour down the road to visit Uplands Cheese. Uplands is famous for being the only company to win the American Cheese Society Competition Best of Show more than once for the same cheese. Pleasant Ridge reserve has won three times, most recently last year.
Long time cheesemaker/owner Mike Gingrich is in the process of turning over the operation to Andy Hatch but the cheese is as good as ever. Last year Uplands introduced their second cheese: the seasonal Rush Creek, a Vacherin Mont D’or-like, bark-wrapped, oozy bit of amazing.
Unrelated to cheesemaking, Andy used to live directly below the infinity room* at House on the Rock. No one seemed happy when I brought up the proximity of Uplands and HOTR. C’mon dudes, embrace your culture!** Even if they are unwilling to acknowledge the camp-terroir of their region, the Uplands folks make great cheese. The Pleasant Ridge is Alpine style, nutty and grassy, more like a well-aged Comte than a Gruyere. Like Comte, it’s dry-salted instead of brined and it’s one of this country’s best full-flavored big cheeses. Being a grass-based operation, Uplands does not make cheese year-round and they sell all the cheese they make so, while not rare, you won’t find it everywhere.
*The Infinity Room really is awesome.
**Though this lack of interest in the local art forms perhaps explains the crappy “monument” to Cheddar that I wrote about in the “Ruminations” section the current issue of Culture Magazine