How many Wisconsin cheesemakers are there?
Wisconsin is home to roughly 1,200 different cheesemakers, who make 3.42 billion pounds of cheese each year.
What does it take to be a Wisconsin cheesemaker?
You need a license to become a Wisconsin cheesemaker. The licensing process takes one to two years, about $3,000 in fees, 240 hours of time as an apprentice under a licensed cheesemaker, and there's a written test to boot.
What's involved in becoming a master cheesemaker in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has the only master cheesemaker program of its kind outside of the one in Switzerland. To enter the three-year program, cheesemakers must have a minimum of 10 years' experience making cheese in a Quality Assured plant, and at least five years' experience making the cheese varieties for which they seek a Master certification. In addition to three years of education and apprenticeship, master cheesemakers must pass a rigorous final examination.
Why are there so many cheesemakers in Wisconsin?
Immigrant cheesemakers from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, France, and Scandinavia settled in Wisconsin in the 1800s, drawn to the fertile land and the high-quality milk it produced. In the generations since, Wisconsin cheesemakers have helped the state become a cheese powerhouse, making 600+ types of cheeses and representing one quarter of the nation's cheese production.