With more Wisconsin cheesemakers shining in the national spotlight and propelling the state to the forefront of the farmstead, artisan and specialty cheese movement, a new organization aims to share information about Wisconsin original cheeses and the people who craft them. Wisconsin Cheese Originals is a member-based organization that will host educational seminars, tasting receptions and meet the cheesemaker events year-round. The organization will also sponsor a Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival, scheduled for Nov. 6-7 at the Monona Terrace in Madison.
Organization founder and executive director Jeanne Carpenter said the goal of the organization is to celebrate Wisconsin’s original cheeses and help connect consumers to farmstead, artisan and specialty cheesemakers, many of whom are winning national and international awards in a state still mostly known for its foam cheesehead hats.
“In the last 10 years, Wisconsin has become home to more than 60 artisan and specialty cheesemakers, many of whom are choosing to start or move their operations to Wisconsin because of the dairy state’s reputation for quality, innovation and infrastructure,” Carpenter said. “Our Wisconsin cheesemakers are leading the artisan and specialty cheese movement, and I know more consumers want to learn more about and taste their amazing cheeses.”
Carpenter points to recent articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post, all profiling the next generation of “rock star” cheesemakers in Wisconsin. A new national publication, Culture Magazine, even profiled a Wisconsin cheesemaker as its lead feature in its inaugural issue.
Wisconsin Cheese Originals aims to host quarterly events, and offers members the chance to meet the state’s most celebrated cheesemakers, learn more about their cheeses and sample their wares. Members can also expect to, on occasion, sample new artisan cheeses not yet available to the general public and give feedback to the cheesemaker. The organization plans to culminate each year with an annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival, slated this year for Nov. 6-7 at the Monona Terrace.
To learn more about the organization, upcoming events for members, and to see a preview of the schedule of events at Madison’s first annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival, visit www.wisconsincheeseoriginals.com or contact Carpenter at 608-358-7837.