OUR ARTISIAN CHEESEMAKERS

At L’Etoile, we’re serious about cheese. Our menus feature a wide variety of styles and flavors: fresh chèvres, nutty cave-aged cheeses, sharp cheddars, and unbelievably creamy blues. We encourage guests to stop by anytime and try a cheese plate at our bar and get a real taste of Wisconsin.

Below is a list of frequently featured artisan cheesemakers:

Bleu Mont Dairy in Blue Mounds
Willi Lehner explains that Bleu Mont Dairy has its roots in Switzerland, where Willi's dad learned the art of cheese making. He came to Wisconsin in 1954 and quickly became head cheesemaker in Mt. Horeb and he passed on his trade to his children. Willi began working along side his dad at a very young age and slowly gleaned the subtleties of what it takes to make great cheese. Bleu Mont Dairy maintains this connection to the past by staying small enough to not lose sight of quality over quantity. The best cheeses at Bleu Mont are made using "certified organic" milk; they make their most flavorful aged cheeses in October and November when the milk is the richest. Willi is one of the Wisconsin Artisan Cheesemakers who was featured in the Public Television Documentary with Chef Tory called "Living on the Wedge".

​Brunkow Cheese started in 1899 as a co-op in Darlington Wisconsin

The Geissbuhler family has operated Brunkow since 1929. The milk for their cheeses comes from certified organic dairy farms, and they offer a line of certified organic cheeses. Brunkow cheese is available at the Westside Community Market on Saturdays from 7 am to 1 pm and at the Dane County Farmers Market.

Carr Valley Cheese in LaValle.
Owned and operated by the Cook family, Carr Valley Cheese Company is over one-hundred years old and to this day remains one of Wisconsin's traditional cheese plants, famous for making cheese the old-fashioned way. From traditional classics like expertly aged Cheddar to award-winning American Originals like Cocoa Cardona and Gran Canaria, their skilled cheesemakers turn milk delivered fresh from local dairy farms into more than 50 delicious cheese varieties.

Dream Farm in Cross Plains

Established in August of 2002, this farmstead cheeserie is certified organic through MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association), and have been a member of FairShare CSA Coalitions since 2004. In addition to their goats & laying hens, they raise 3-6 steers to keep pastures from becoming overgrown. Because farmstead cheeses are made in a specific place, they tend to develop unique flavor profiles based on the feed the animals receive, the climate in which they are made, and the natural microbes in the air where they are aged.

 

Emmi Roth in Monroe

Emmi Roth uses the freshest local milk to craft their cheeses. Additionally, their commitment to excellence has earned Emmi Roth cheeses over 100 awards in regional, national and international competitions over the past decade. You can visit their unique chalet factory to get a first hand look at their extraordinary cheesemaking process!

Farmer John's in Spring Green
The Farmer John operation in Spring Green began with the first Farmer John at the turn of the century. Currently Farmer John the Fourth is in his teens and very much involved in the farming operation. At Farmer John's, they specialize in selling and producing Italian Cheese from their dairy farm. Their Italian Cheese, Parmesian, Romano, Asiago and Provolone are all aged and flavorful. They also have fresh eggs, chickens, pigs and Farmer John IV always has special projects ... this year's project is peacocks. 

Fayette Creamery​ in Darlington

Fayette Creamery is located in the rolling hills of rural Fayette in the Driftless Region of Southwest Wisconsin. Additionally, the milk for the cheese is sourced from neighboring dairy farms in Lafayette County. The artisan cheeses are handcrafted in small batches and ripened by wild molds in an underground cellar.

 

Hidden Springs Creamery in Westby

Brenda and Dean Jensen sustainably raise and milk 116 LaCaune and East Friesian Sheep on 76 acres and have installed their own cave to experiment with cave aged cheeses. They started with a smaller herd of 50 dairy sheep & introducing themselves to sheep dairy co-op meetings. Their farm is located in Southwestern Wisconsin in the "Driftless Region," a place that happens to be the perfect environment to raise dairy sheep. Their vision is clear: they want their farm to be sustainable, both environmentally and financially. You can be sure that the animals and the land are treated well, and their products are carefully crafted the old-fashioned way using only the best ingredients. In 2007, Hidden Springs Creamery won 1st place at the American Cheese Society Judging for their "Driftless" cheese variety. Even though they have grown quite a bit since that 50 head herd, their approach has stayed the same.

Holland's Family Farm in Thorp

Rolf and Marieke Penterman emigrated from the Netherlands in 2002 to pursue their dreams of dairy farming and cheese making. Their Marieke Gouda is unique in that it is aged. Aging gouda is not common practice and it gives their Marieke Gouda a more complex sweet and nutty flavor. In 2007, Marieke won Best of Class in the Open Class for Flavored Semi-soft Cheeses at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

 

Hook's Cheese Company in Mineral Point

In 1970, Tony Hook began apprenticing at a small cheese factory in Barnevel and got his cheesemaker's license in 1972. Tony and Julie formed Hook's Cheese Company and began producing cheese in 1976. Their cheeses are made with milk from several small dairy farms around Mineral Point, Wisconsin that all raise their cows sustainably and without BGH. Best known for its blues, colby and aged cheddar cheeses, Hook's is currently storing an impressive 600,000 pounds of aging cheese.

 

Murphy Farms in Soldiers Grove
Tom and Sally Murphy joined the Dane County Farmers Market in 1994 with the hope of trying to save their sixth generation farm. The Market has been a real lifesaver for their farm. Their fresh cheese curds, line of cheddar cheeses and fresh made cottage cheese are very popular at market. In 1999, they also added a bakery to the farm. Sally's love for baking and experience in the bakery business resulted in their ability to offer fresh baked products along with their cheese products. Sally makes everything herself and all of it is from scratch. She uses real butter and eggs in all of her products. There are 13 different kinds of nut breads. All are loaded with lots of fruits and nuts. They have wonderful muffins that you can actually find filled with fruit. Their bars are made just like you would make them at home and are made with no artificial ingredients.

Roelli Family Cheese Haus in Shullsburg

Roelli Family Cheese has a family tradition of making handcrafted specialty cheese for nearly 100 years.

Adolph Roelli came to this area of Lafayette County Wisconsin from Switzerland in the 1920s. From that time, four generations of the Roelli family have been in the cheese business at this location, building on Adolph's commitmnet to quality, service and customer satisfaction. This long-standing commitment continues to be the cornerstone of their business. In 2013, Red Rock won the 2013 US Championship Cheese Contest Best of Class.

 

Sartori Cheese in Antigo

The essence of Sartori is best illustrated through the description of their family crest, a nod to the people, places and experiences that define them. The ship icon refers to The Finlandia, the steamer that carried founder, Paolo Sartori to America, where he would later achieve his own American Dream, beginning in 1939 when he started the company. The cows are an acknowledgement of their farm-to-fork ethos and the special relationships they have with their family farmers, many of whom have supplied them milk for several generations. They also have an image of the state of Wisconsin, not just because it is the source of the finest cheese anywhere but because it is their home, something that has shaped them more than anything else. SarVecchio, a staple of Chef Tory's creative influence, is decorated with awards. 2013 it won Gold at the Global Cheese Awards. In 2012 it won Gold at the World Cheese Awards as well as 1st Place Best of Class at the World Championship Cheese Contest.

 

Saxon Creamery in Cleveland

Saxon Creamery is a family operated creamery that takes great pride in their humane treatment of animals and their land to produce top quality artisanal cheeses.

Seymour Dairy​ in Seymour

Veteran cheesemakers at Seymour Dairy thrive on crafting fine European style cheeses. Currently, Seymour Dairy offers several cheeses rendered in either a German, Danish, or Italian technique.

Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville

Uplands Cheese is owned by two families: Mike and Carol Gingrich and Dan and Jeanne Patenaude. They formed Uplands Cheese together to produce and distribute a unique cheese that they developed using centuries-old techniques that originated in the alpine provinces of France. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is that artisanal cheese made from the non-pasteurized milk of a single herd of Wisconsin cows fed and managed using natural, "old world" practices. Their cows graze lush pastures from early spring through fall; the resulting milk has better nutritional value and more varied and subtle flavors that are expressed in the delicate flavor profile of Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese. Pleasant Ridge Reserve has received numerous prestigious awards. Most recently it was awarded Best of Show at the 2005 American Cheese Society conference, an accolade it won for the second time, having been awarded Best of Show in 2001 as well. Additionally, Pleasant Ridge Reserve was named U.S. Champion at the 2003 U.S. Championship cheese contest. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is the only cheese to ever win both national competitions. In 2007, Andy Hatch earned his Wisconsin Cheesemaker's License and joined Uplands as an assistant cheesemaker to Mike Gingrich and Joe Milinovich. In 2008, he took over responsibility for the production and aging of their cheese and has subsequently come to manage all of the creamery's operations. When calling Uplands, you will most often speak to Andy or his wife, Caitlin, who packages and ships their cheese.

1 South Pinckney Street       Madison, WI 53703       608.251.0500      

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Web design by Mychela Burkhart

Photography by Samantha Egelhoff and Keni Rosales

 

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