Three years after working to perfect the recipe for a new farmhouse cheese, Red Barn Family Farms in Wisconsin unveiled its new masterpiece, Cūpola this week.
Cūpola is a semi-hard cheese crafted in 11-pound wheels. The flavor is fruity and nutty with hints of caramel and toasted pineapple, while the texture is firm, yet supple enough to cut and eat with a cracker. Aged seven months, the first batch was pre-sold to select retailers, so it’s a bit hard to find. But another batch will be ready in late June, so chances are you’ll find it in more stores later this summer.
I pre-ordered two wheels back in April for Metcalfe’s Market-Hilldale in Madison, and then promptly forgot about it. So you can imagine how excited I was when the cheese magically appeared on my counter this week. After demoing it exactly twice, one wheel is already gone, so you can bet the farm I’ll be pre-ordering more wheels when they become available in June.
You may know Red Barn Family Farms for their Heritage Weis Cheddars, which have won multiple gold medals in national and international competitions, and which are made by cheesemaker Wayne Hintz at Springside Cheese in Oconto Falls, Wis.
For Cūpola, they partnered with U.S. Champion Cheesemaker Katie Fuhrmann at LaClare Farms, and worked with the folks at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research to perfect the recipe. As always, the cheese is crafted using milk exclusively from a group of eight small family farms, all certified by the American Humane Association and held accountable to the Red Barn Rules, stringent standards of animal health care and milk quality.
Company owners Paula and Terry Homan say the cheese will always be made in small batches, but consistent availability will likely happen by the holiday season.
As for the name, Paula and Terry coined it themselves. If you’re not familiar with the term, a cūpola is the small structure on top of traditional Wisconsin barns (which are usually red). The Homans describe a cūpola as a pinnacle.
“We think this cheese is a pinnacle product for Red Barn,” Paula says. “We’ve got a world-class cheesemaker, top-quality milk, an American original, and a recipe perfected over three years with the help of cheese experts at the Center for Dairy Research.”
With its stellar pedigree and a flavor that delivers, Cūpola reflects everything Red Barn Family Farms stands for. Founded in 2008 with a mission to help preserve excellent small family farms in Wisconsin, the Homans (Terry is a licensed veterinarian) believe there is an intrinsic link between the health and care of dairy animals and the quality and flavor of the milk they produce
Over the years, the Homans have hand-selected small family farms that meet their Red Barn Rules. Each farm has an average herd size of 55 cows. “Cows are known by name and live longer lives than the industry average,” Paula says.
Happy cows + great milk + champion cheesemakers = awesome cheese. Congrats, Red Barn Family Farms!