Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wisconsin Cheese Tour: Uplands Cheese Co

Just in time for a brand new cheese arrival by the name of Rush Creek Reserve, here's a quick post with a bunch of photos from my visit to Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, WI. Back in the summer, I was incredibly fortunate to be included in the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's cheese tour. WMMB graciously hosted a group of cheesemongers and cheese writers from around the country for three cheese-filled days including visits to about seven different Wisconsin cheesemakers. Like I said, incredibly fortunate.

Uplands started with a cheese called Pleasant Ridge Reserve, winner of the American Cheese Society's Best In Show award a record three times. That means it has been selected the top dog out of over 1000 cheese contest entries. Not once, not twice, but three times. Nice.

Pleasant Ridge is made only from spring and summer milk when the cows are out on pasture eating that delectable green grass. It's a hard, aged Alpine style cheese in the spirit of Beaufort and Gruyere. Read more about how the Uplands team decided to make this style here and here.

So what happens to the fall and winter milk if they only use summer milk, you might ask? Good question. For years, they would sell it to other dairies. But lucky for us, they decided to develop a new cheese that embraced the richness of the cows' winter diet of hay. Voila, Rush Creek Reserve was born. It's a luscious, soft-ripened, spruce bark-wrapped beauty made in the style of Vacherin Mont d'Or. When we were at the creamery, the very first batches of the season were in the cave. I've been looking forward to it ever since!

The ideal way to enjoy Rush Creek is to pick up a wheel, some wine and invite over some friends to share this dreamy creation. There is definitely a limited supply, so be sure to swing by the shop (501 Gallatin in East Nashville) soon or call the shop to reserve a wheel (650-4440).

Since this post doesn't really do justice to the awesomeness of Uplands, please be sure to check out the their website for lots of good information about the cheeses, the people who craft them, and the cows who magically turn grass into milk much to our delight. And here are a few reviews of Rush Creek complete with mouth watering photos:
Tasting Table, Cheese and Champagne, Janet Fletcher's cheese column for, NY Times

The ladies out on pasture

One of many awards

Cheesemaker Andy Hatch (wearing the hat) and some of my fellow tour peeps

Wheels of Pleasant Ridge aging in the 'cave'

Andy telling us about the herd

A number of different wheels for us to sample
so we could compare variations in the batches

Pulling samples for us to taste

Andy and cheesemonger Sam Chertoff rocking a lovely hair net

The rolling pastures of Uplands Cheese

Wheels are salted (instead of brined) when they first get to the cave

Wheels of newly made Rush Creek

Each and every batch has a wheel from which samples
are periodically pulled to monitor its development

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