Alert readers of The Cheese Underground might know that for fun, every year I run a little event called the Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival.
In exciting news, tickets to this annual shindig, set for Nov. 4-5 at the Monona Terrace in downtown Madison, are now on sale to the public. While almost all of the dinners, tours and seminars have already sold out to members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals, those of you looking to attend the festival’s signature event: the Meet the Cheesemaker Gala, are in luck, as many tickets are still available. That’s because, in an effort to reduce the number of hate emails I receive from hostile would-be-ticket-buyers after the event annually sells out 6 weeks in advance, I’m ticketing it a bit differently this year and offering two different time slots, from 6 to 8 p.m., and 8 to 10 p.m. Each session will be limited to 250 attendees, allowing everyone to personally meet and greet cheesemakers in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.
For those of you who’ve never attended the event, the Meet the Cheesemaker Gala is one of the only opportunities in the nation to personally meet nearly every Wisconsin artisan, farmstead or specialty cheesemakers and taste more than 150 of their cheeses.
Also new this year (another attempt to limit hate email), cheese will be offered for sale at the event. Now you can taste and then purchase your favorite cheeses, all in the same venue! The fabulous Metcalfe’s Market will set up shop in a room adjacent to the Gala, offering many of the night’s cheeses and accompanying foods, including Potter’s artisan Crackers and Quince and Apple small-batch preserves.
Here’s a run down of all the companies, cheesemakers and cheeses that will be in attendance at this year’s Meet the Cheesemaker Gala:
- BelGioioso Cheese – meet Gaetano Auricchio and taste Auribella, Crescenza-Stracchino, Crumbly Gorgonzola, Provolino, Ricotta Salata & Peperoncino
- Bleu Mont Dairy – meet Cheesemaker Willi Lehner and taste Bandaged Cheddar & Alpine Renegade
- Burnett Dairy Cooperative – meet Cheesemaker Bruce Willis and taste Alpha’s Morning Sun, Alpha’s Morning Sun with Rosemary, Hot Pepper String, Smoked Provolone & Aged Provolone
- Capri Cheesery – meet Cheesemaker Felix Thalhammer and taste St. Felix, St. Pauline, Wash Bear, Smoky Bear, Fromag Blanc, Celestan, Hybrid Cheddar and Feta
- Carr Valley Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Sid Cook and taste Snow White Goat Cheddar, Billy Blue, Mobay, Cave Aged Mellage, Cave Aged Marisa, Black Sheep Truffle, Bessie’s Blend & Apple Smoked Cheddar
- Cedar Grove Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Bob Wills and taste Quark, Natural Rind Sheep Cheese & Sharp Cheddar
- Cesar’s Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Cesar Luis and taste Queso Oaxaca, Quesadilla & Chipotle Quesadilla
- Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese – meet Cheesemaker George Crave and taste Mascarpone, Fresh Mozzarella & Petit Frere
- Dreamfarm – meet Cheesemaker Diana Kalscheur Murphy and taste Fresh Chevre, Feta, Rosebud & Arthur
- Edelweiss Creamery – meet Cheesemaker Bruce Workman and taste Grass Fed Gouda, Grass Fed Emmentaler & Havarti
- Emmi Roth USA – meet Cheesemaker Mike Green and taste Grand Cru Gruyere, GranQueso, Buttermilk Blue & Ostenborg Havarti
- Harmony Specialty Dairy – meet owners Ralph & Sharon Bredl and taste Cheshire Rosemary, Abergele, Mushroom & Chive Abergele, Nut Brown Ale Caerphilly, Sage & Garlic Cheshire & Double Glouster
- Hidden Springs Creamery – meet Cheesemaker Brenda Jensen and taste Driftless, Ocooch Mountain, Meadow Melody and Bad Axe
- Holland’s Family Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Marieke Penterman and taste Marieke Gouda Plain, Marieke Gouda Smoked, Marieke Gouda Honey Clover, Marieke Gouda Foenegreek & Marieke Gouda Pesto Basil
- Hook’s Cheese – meet Cheesemakers Tony & Julie Hook and taste 10-Year Cheddar, 7-Year Cheddar, 5-Year Cheddar, Original Blue, Blue Paradise, Tilston Point, Gorgonzola & Little Boy Blue
- Koepke Family Farms – meet Owners John & Kim Koepke and taste La Belle
- Klondike Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Adam Buholzer and taste Odyssey Traditional Feta, Mediterranean Feta, Fat Free Feta and Peppercorn Feta
- LaClare Farms Specialties – meet Cheesemaker Katie Hedrich and taste Evalon, Evalon with Fenugreek & Evalon with Cumin
- Lactalis USA – meet Cheesemaker Lenny Bass and taste Brie & Feta
- Meister Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Vicki Thingvold and taste Eagle Cave Reserve Bandaged Cheddar & Wild Morel & Leek Jack
- Montchevre – meet Cheesemaker Jean Rossard and taste Fresh Goat Cheese, Cabrie, Bucheron, Chevre Fleurie, Chevre in Blue & Feta
- Mt. Sterling Co-op Creamery – meet Cheesemaker Bjorn Unseth and taste Sterling Reserve & Sharp Raw Milk Goat Cheddar
- Organic Valley – meet Cheesemaker Phil Van Tatenhove and taste Pepper Jack, Raw Mild Cheddar, Blue Cheese & Pasture Butter
- Otter Creek Organic Farm – meet Bartlett Durand and taste Seasonal Raw Milk Cheddars & Pesto Cheddar
- Red Barn Family Farms – meet Cheesemaker Wayne Hintz and Owner Terry Homan and taste Heritage Weis Reserve, Heritage Weis, Heritage White Cheddar Reserve, Heritage White Cheddar & Weinlese Cheddar Blue
- Roelli Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Chris Roelli and taste Dunbarton Blue
- Salemville Cheese Cooperative/DCI Cheese – Taste Amish Blue, Amish Gorgonzola & Amish Smokehaus Blue
- Sartori – meet Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski and taste SarVecchio, Bellavitano Gold, Espresso BellaVitano, Raspberry BellaVitano, Salsa Asiago, Rosemary Asiago, Extra Aged Fontina & Mediterranean Fontina
- Sassy Cow Creamery – meet Cheesemaker Kara Kasten-Olson and taste Cheese Curds
- Saxon Homestead Creamery – meet Cheesemaker Jerry Heimerl and taste Big Ed’s, Saxony, Pastures & Green Fields
- Seymour Dairy – meet Cheesemaker Rob Richter and taste Weinlese, Ader Kase, Crocker Hills Organic Blue, Blue Crest & Ader Kase Reserve
- Shepherd’s Ridge Creamery – meet Cheesemaker Vicky Simpkins and taste Oliver’s Reserve, Poplar Lake & Dresser Junction
- Uplands Cheese – meet Cheesemaker Andy Hatch and taste Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve & Rush Creek Reserve
- Widmer’s Cheese Cellars – meet Cheesemaker Joe Widmer and taste Aged Brick, Mild Brick, Authentic Colby, 6-Year Cheddar and Brick Spread
Of course, the Friday evening Meet the Cheesemaker Gala is just one of a wide array of events taking place during the annual festival. Other events include: creamery and dairy farm tours, private cheesemaker dinners, and tasting and educational seminars. All events require advance tickets and will sell out.
A HUGE thank you to all sponsors of the Third Annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival, including: Gold-Level sponsors Klondike Cheese, World Import Distributors, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; Silver-Level sponsors BelGioioso Cheese, Dairy Business Innovation Center, Emmi Roth USA, Fromagination, Organic Valley, Uplands Cheese; Bronze-Level sponsors American Cheese Society, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Edible Madison, Fromartharie, and Meister Cheese, and Supporting Sponsors Hook’s Cheese, Hy-Vee Madison and Widmer’s Cheese Cellars.