November conference to focus on continental-style artisanal cheesemaking

A three-day conference designed especially for cheesemakers interested in making continental-style artisanal cheeses is set for Nov. 13-15 in River Falls, Wis.

“Turning Chaos Into Control: Continental Style Cheeses,” is coordinated by the UW-River Falls Falcon Foods Dairy Plant and the Dairy Business Innovation Center. It aims to provide step-by-step information on how to produce continental style cheeses – from a typical Edam or Gouda from the Netherlands, to a Saint-Paulin from France, to any other number of European style cheeses.

“Making small manipulations at critical times in the cheesemaking process can result in truly unique cheeses,” said Neville McNaughton, cheesemaker and conference co-planner. “We want to empower cheesemakers to take control of the make process and show how they may be able to use existing equipment to convert milk into an artisanal masterpiece.”

Advance registration is required and enrollment is limited to 35 people.  Cost is $375 per person or $425 after Oct. 31, and includes all course materials, breaks, lunches and evening activities.

The limited enrollment will allow hands-on training and targeted-instruction with several expert trainers, including:

  • Marc Druart: Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese Makers. Druart is a technical consultant and expert cheesemaker. His specialties include white mold rinds and aging of soft cheeses.
  • Ranee May: A Faculty Associate of Food Science at UW-River Falls who teaches the Wisconsin Licensed Cheesemaker Course, May is responsible for total processing of dairy products on campus at the Falcon Foods Dairy Plant, including the coordination and training of student workers, plant and equipment maintenance, retail sales and customer service.
  • Neville McNaughton:  A native of New Zealand and an experienced artisanal cheesemaker, McNaughton offers expertise in plant design and process efficiency, equipment utilization and product options and development.
  • Jim Natzke: General manager at Roth Käse USA in Monroe, Wis, Natzke oversees a cheese plant that has had won more than 100 regional, national and international awards for its artisanal cheeses. Roth Käse’s gruyere, havarti, blue and numerous other European style cheeses have a renowned reputation.
  • Marieke Penterman: Along with her husband Rolf, the Pentermans emigrated from the Netherlands to Wisconsin in 2002 to pursue their passion for dairy farming. Marieke crafts a farmstead creamy Gouda-style cheese that carries a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that becomes more complex as it ages on wooden shelves. She won Best of Class in the 2007 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest for her Feonegreek Gouda.

The conference begins on Nov. 13 with sessions on flavor, cultures, coagulation, mechanical steps and curd manipulation. Dinner will be with Marieke Penterman, of Holland Family Farm. The following day will include hands-on production of cheeses, including Port Salut and Gouda, and an evening cheese tasting with Marc Druart and Jim Natzke. The conference concludes with a half-day session on Nov. 15 focusing on modifying your facility, developing a label and an extended question and answer session.

To download a conference brochure and registration form, visit and click on Calendar of Events or call Ranee May at 715-425-3704.