Anytime us sconnies travel outside the state and mention we hail from America’s Dairyland, we’re inevitably met with a response about the state’s notoriety for its cheese production. The conversation usually goes a little something like:
Other person: “So, where ya from? Canada?”
Me: “No. Wisconsin.”
Other person: “Ooohhhh! You’re a CHEESEHEAD!”
Well heck, with more than 60 artisan cheesemakers throughout the state whipping up over 600 varieties of Wisconsin cheese, our reputation is well-deserved. So what better way to explore Wisconsin than via a cheese tour? Here are seven of the best places to get your fix:
- Carr Valley Cheese Co.
La Valle, Wis.
The most decorated cheese company in the U.S., there truly is nothing like Carr Valley's cheeses. The folks from this popular cheese company recommend heading to their La Valle location early in the morning for the best behind-the-scenes tour of how they craft their award-winning cheeses.
- Cedar Grove Cheese
Check out old-fashioned, small scale production at Cedar Grove Cheese in the tiny town of Plain, Wis. There, they’ve been concentrating on crafting artisan and specialty cheese in an environmentally responsible way since 1978. Call ahead to schedule a tour.
- Hook’s Cheese
Mineral Point, Wis.
Tony and Julie Hook have been making artisan cheddars, blue cheeses, world champion colby and many other varieties for over 35 years. The Hooks currently produce more than 30 varieties of Wisconsin cheese. Open only on Fridays.
- Holland's Family Cheese
Book a tour of this farmstead to learn how the family has created its authentic Dutch style, award-winning raw milk Gouda cheese. Take a daily guided tour at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. or a self-guided tour any time between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
- Kelley Country Creamery
Fond du Lac, Wis.
Voted “Best Ice Cream Shop in Wisconsin” in 2010 by USA Today, this Fond du Lac gem is the perfect place to stop for some Premium Non-Homogenized Farmstead Ice Cream. Forewarning to the indecisive though: The Kelley Farm crafts over 200 flavors!
- Sassy Cow Creamery
Californian cows may be happy but Wisconsin cows are downright sassy. We love Sassy Cow Creamery not only for their feisty name but also for their delectable fare. Discover the magic of Sassy Cow by embarking on a free creamery tour, which are offered the first Friday of each month from 4-6 p.m. After you’ve toured Sassy Cow, head 45 minutes southeast to Jefferson to sample some wonderful Wisconsin wines at Vetro Winery.
- Widmer's Cheese Cellars
This third generation cheese factory produces cheddar, brick and Colby cheese but they are perhaps most famous for their award-winning aged cheddar. Widmer’s Cheese Cellars’ factory store and viewing area are open daily Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Quick tip: Ditch the open-toed shoes and jewelry when embarking on a cheese tour.
There are plenty more destinations worth checking out all across Wisconsin. Which is your favorite? Comment below!
Something Special from Wisconsin™ is a trademarked program administered by the Division of Agricultural Development at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection since 1983. Every dollar spent on Something Special from Wisconsin™ products and services supports local farmers, food processors, entrepreneurs, our communities and livelihood, as well as the Wisconsin way of life. Something Special from Wisconsin™ products are unique and of the highest quality, making them perfect for gift-giving, special occasions and every day!