Uplands Cheese sits up on top of Pleasant Ridge in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin. They milk their cows seasonally, in time with the pastures, to produce their two traditional, artisan cheeses. Uplands Cheese is a farmstead creamery, meaning they produce their cheese on the same farm where their milk is collected.
Uplands Cheese Company is owned and operated by two families: the Hatch and Mericka families. Both Andy Hatch and Scott Mericka began as apprentices under the previous generation of owners - founders Mike Gingrich and Dan Patenaude. Andy and Scott (and their wives) purchased the farm in 2014 from the founders, ensuring the future of a dairy farm where cows have been milked for over a hundred years. Andy has now taken over for Mike in the creamery, while Scott has taken over Dan's role in the barn.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve, named after the land formation on which the farm sits, is made in the tradition of Alpine cheeses like Gruyere and Beaufort. It is only made from May through October, when the cows are eating fresh pasture. This grass-fed, raw milk produces flavors in the cheese that cannot be replicated. When pasture conditions aren't ideal, the farm simply sells the milk and produces less cheese, keeping the highest standards of milk set for the production of this cheese. This process ensures the quality in each and every batch produced.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve (pictured above) is known as the most-awarded cheese in American history, having won Best of Show in the American Cheese Society's annual competition three times, and the US Cheese Championship. It's the only cheese to have won both of the major, national cheese championships.
Rush Creek Reserve is made exclusively in the autumn, as the diet of their cows begin to change for the fresh pastures of summer to winter's dry hay. Rush Creek Reserve is designed to show off the richer texture of the hay-fed milk and the delicate ripeness of a soft, young cheese.
Rush Creek Reserve (pictured above) is inspired by the French Vacherin Mont d'Or, and is bound in spruce bark, giving it it's soft round and imparting a sweet, woodsy flavor to the cheese. Combined with the savory flavors from it's rind, the custardy-paste has a deep yet delicate richness.
We had the unique opportunity to visit Uplands Cheese's Farmstead Creamery for a look behind the curtain to see how Uplands' award-winning cheeses are made. Take a virtual visit yourself with our video, Inside Uplands Cheese's Farmstead Creamery: