Updated: Feb 7
Growing up in Wisconsin, I was certainly well aware of the importance of cheese production in the state's history and current economy. However, I did not realize that there were so many nice cheese factories to visit within my home state. For information about the abundance of Wisconsin cheese, visit https://www.wisconsincheese.com/.
While home for the holidays, I decided to explore a bit and rank some cheese stores and factories. I have picked out the top 3 within central Wisconsin. The southern part of the state traditionally produced a large portion of Wisconsin's cheese due to the sheer number of milk producing farms. However, for this post I am staying in the middle of the state and looking for factory-stores that both produce and sell cheese on-site. I will list them below with some details around the factory in no particular order.
Mullins Cheese Incorporated - Mosinee, WI
Mullins cheese claims the title of the largest family owned cheese manufacturing and whey processing plant in the state of Wisconsin! In operation since 1970 when two friends started the business, this factory makes an astonishing variety of cheeses! When in their factory store, you can purchase almost any type of cheese that you can imagine. They sell fresh curds and whey products as well. They have recieved 2 awards from the Wisconsin cheese association and are well known for their colby and cheddar varieties of cheese.
2. Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese Company - Rudolph, WI
Wisconsin Dairy State is a large cheese factory located in the tiny village of Rudolph, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Trails Magazine named this factory-store the best place to buy cheese in the state! They offer tours of the facility and informational videos on the process of cheese making and the history of cheese production in the state of Wisconsin. On top of all of this, they also produce and sell ice cream in their ice cream parlor. Unfortunately, it was very cold for my visit so I didn't give this a try.
3. Carr Valley Cheese - Mauston, WI
Carr Valley is an award-winning operation that has stores and locations throughout Wisconsin. They are over 100 years old and are family owned and operated. I visited the Mauston location which has a real old-world type of charm. The store boasted some real variety and selection along with a nice collection of fudges and other goods. Carr Valley cheese can be found throughout the state at various locations but this location is connected to the factory that produces alot of their specialty cheeses that are on sale locally.
All of the stores shown above are located within about an hours drive of each other and in the central part of Wisconsin. I will follow up in the future with some factories and producers in the southern and nothern parts of the state. Wisconsin has so many great cheese producers to highlight!
Just look at the beautiful cheese sampler I was able to assemble after my tour...
Of course, I could not complete this trip without purchasing and highlighting a few of my favorite cheeses. One thing that I personally love about Wisconsin cheese is the option for really sharp and extra aged cheddar. While cheddar purists might say the extra aging disqualifies it from being a true cheddar, I say call it what you will, it is delicious!
Wisconsin Dairy State - Plain Cheese Curds
9 out of 10
-Fresh-made in the factory
-Salty, briny flavor
-Firm but smooth and squeaky texture
Carr Valley Cheese - Apple Smoked Cheddar
8.5 out of 10
-Smoked and spiced for a great blend of flavor
-Crumbly aged texture but still very creamy
Carr Valley Cheese - 12 year aged cheddar
8.5 out of 10
-Very sharp and intense
-Pocketed with crystalized protiens that provide a suttle crunch
-Very advanced age gives it a crumbly and brittle texture
I hope you get the chance to try some fresh curds from a cheese factory in Wisconsin very soon! Thanks for reading!