Monday, July 9, 2012

Cheese Tour Part 4 of 4: Last Stop -- Uplands

We made our way from Mineral Point to Dodgeville to visit Uplands Cheese Company, which is only eight years old. Uplands was quite a bit different from the other two creameries we stopped at in that while the others produce many types of cheeses, Uplands really only produces one (although it has one other variety in the winter) and all the milk comes from cows that graze right on the creamy property.
Andy Hatch, cheesemaker and general manager, explained to us that the farm follows more of a European style of cheesemaking and it’s not a typical format for a Wisconsin creamery. He explained that the more complexity in the milk supply, the more of a possibility for flavor complexity. These old techniques the creamery follows generate a great flavor.
Uplands makes Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a raw-milk artisan cheese that tastes similar to a French Gruyรจre. The cheese wheels are aged in ripening rooms built into the creamery where they are washed several times a week in a brine solution, encouraging the development of specific (good) bacteria on the cheese rinds.
In the fall, Uplands produces Rush Creek Reserve. At this time, the cows’ diet changes because of the seasonal changes. The cheese is super soft and has a slightly sweet flavor. While we didn’t get to try it at the creamery, we have sampled it before and it’s delicious.
I thought it was interesting that Andy explained the Uplands cows take part in rotational grazing. Each day, the cows are moved to different fields. This ensures the milk they produce gets the best flavors and keeps the grass in the best stages for optimal growth. If the farmers have to feed the cows hay, rather than grass, they don’t use the milk for cheese, but rather ship the raw milk for drinking. Having the cows right on the property gives the cheesemakers an intimate relationship with the animals. 

Like at the other creameries, we got an in-depth tour at Uplands, checking out where the milk is turned into cheese and big wheels are ripened. And of course, we got to sample! Andy cut us chunks of cheese from a large wheel of Pleasant Ridge Reserve. So good!

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