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8 Can't-Miss Wisconsin Cheese Experiences

May 23, 2024

8 Can't-Miss Wisconsin Cheese Experiences
Make this summer the season of cheese with our top must-do list of destinations and experiences. Whether you hit the road to explore all the wonders of Wisconsin Cheese or enjoy award-winning classics and new-to-you creations in your home, The State of Cheese celebrates our proud cheesemaking heritage by welcoming you to your most delicious cheese adventures yet.

Ron Henningfeld

Experience Cheese In The City

Are you visiting Milwaukee for Summerfest? Stop into Hill Valley Dairy, an urban cheese factory in the city’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. It’s a must-stop destination for anyone looking for a remarkable cheesemaking experience. There, you’ll find first-generation cheesemaker Ron Henningfeld and his wife, Josie. Ron connects people with local cheeses as he handcrafts small-batch treasures like cheddars, alpine styles, goudas and cheese curds.

shallot herb alpine cheese
Pair Shallot and Herb Alpine with roasted tomatoes, balsamic glaze, and a sprinkle of snipped fresh chives to amplify the cheese's herby aroma and flavor.

Don’t leave without award-winning wedges Luna and Alina, Whiskey Gouda, or this favorite of Ron’s, Shallot and Herb Alpine. “It carries me back to my childhood summers of snacking on chives out of my grandma’s garden, leaving a scent on me that always revealed where I had been,” shares Ron. “Except this far-improved snack deliciously balances a mix of herbs with a great alpine- style cheese. Watching our customers light up over one taste is a lot of fun!”

burrata cheese pairing

Sample The Only Burrata Made In Wisconsin

With all the fun in the sun, it’s an ideal time to serve loved ones cool and creamy BelGioioso Burrata. Soft fresh mozzarella surrounds the outside of the cheese with a luxurious surprise inside—fresh mozzarella shreds soaked in silky heavy cream called stracciatella. BelGioioso® Cheese is the only cheesemaker in the state skillfully crafting each burrata ball by hand. Their recipes are passed down by generations, and fresh milk is the key to quality. The cheese won Best of Class at the 2023 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and First Place at the 2022 American Cheese Society Cheese Competition.

BelGioioso’s award-winning burrata is available nationwide, and it’s easy to experience this milky gem whenever and wherever your cheese-loving heart desires. Try our Air-Fryer Burrata, or create a stunning summer bite by topping burrata with thinly sliced prosciutto, blanched or grilled asparagus, and a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil.

Bob Willis outisde by plants

Go Gaga Over Quark Cheese

In the heart of the Driftless Area, just outside Plain, Wisconsin, discover Cedar Grove Cheese. Master Cheesemaker Bob Wills bought the factory in 1989. Cedar Grove Cheese was the first domestic cheese business to go rBGH free and one of the first to make organic cheeses. It’s home to the Living Machine, an on-site greenhouse that uses wetland plants to clean and purify the factory’s wastewater before it’s returned to the earth. Visit Cedar Grove to see this innovative system up close and observe how premium artisan cheeses like award-winning butterkäse, colby, cheddars and cheese curds are crafted the old-fashioned way.

grilled peaches and lemon honey quark

Make it: Grilled Peaches with Lemon-Honey Quark

Another must-try? Clock Shadow Creamery™ Quark is the only quark made in our state. Quark is a European-style fresh cheese with a slightly tart, milky flavor and soft, spreadable texture. “I love quark cheese,” says Bob. “Its versatility is unparalleled, from cheesecakes and ice cream to pizza and crab rangoon.”

hook's cheese stand at Dane County Farmer's Market

Meet A World Champion Cheesemaker

Savor a Saturday at the Dane County Farmers’ Market in Madison, where cheesemakers Julie and Tony Hook are at the Hook’s Cheese booth on Pinckney Street. Don’t miss the opportunity to shake hands with the first (and only) woman to win the overall World Championship for her colby. It’s made in the traditional way, giving the cheese tiny holes, and boasts a sweeter flavor than cheddar.

Tony and Julie Hook

Julie has worked alongside her husband, Master Cheesemaker Tony Hook, since 1976; this cheesemaking power couple loves to chat about their award-winning showpieces. Hook’s® Cheese Company in Mineral Point is known for its aged cheddars, flavored jacks, rich blues and mixed-milk cheeses. Tony and Julie keep the factory and business small to maintain a closer connection with customers. “The nicest thing is when you get feedback from the person buying,” Tony says. “It helps to know what you're doing is something people enjoy."

deer creek cheeses

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Elevate your next cheese board experience when you transform Deer Creek Cheese's labels into miniature works of art. The characters in a beloved childhood storybook of founder Chris Gentine inspire these whimsical cheese creations. Beautiful hand-drawn artwork adorns each package, courtesy of Chris and his wife Julie's daughter Sophie. To make these creative cheese markers, carefully remove Deer Creek’s labels from the packages and place them inside 2x3-inch picture frames.

The MoonRabbit, The Robin, and The Fawn are all multi-award-winners and perfect for the season. Each cheese blends tradition with unique flavor and sensory experiences. "The Fawn has a subtle elegance to it," shares Chris. "If you rush while tasting it, you'll miss the reacceleration of flavors that happens just before the finish. That is where The Fawn shows its true depth of beauty." We paired this tasty trio with assorted fruits, roasted cashews, prosciutto and fresh thyme.

Kerry Henning

Hobnob With Cheese History

Gorgeous Elkhart Lake is another hot spot for warm-weather fun. But no cheese lover’s visit is complete without taking a 15-minute trip to Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese Store, Museum & Factory. The Henning family has been making cheese since 1914. Today, Master Cheesemaker Kerry Henning is at the helm. “We still do everything by hand,” Kerry says. “The time it takes to make cheese today is no different than a hundred years ago when my grandpa made it.” The museum pays homage to the family’s cheesemaking heritage, showcasing vintage equipment.

heirloom tomato phyllo tart

Make it: Heirloom Tomato Phyllo Tart 

Visitors can also peer into the cheese factory through windows as some of the world’s best cheddars, colby and more are lovingly crafted in the early mornings. Late risers need not worry—fresh, warm cheese curds are still available, and you can also pick up flavored cheddars, wine, and charcuterie at the store. I have three favorite flavor combinations—” reveals Kerry. “Mediterranean Sunset Cheddar, Louisiana Lagniappe Cheddar and Blazing Buffalo Cheddar.”

Monroe Cheese Days tents outside

Eat Your Way Through The Oldest Food Festival in the Midwest

On the heels of summer, Green County Cheese Days® runs from September 20 to 22 in Monroe. Green County is famous for cheeses like limburger, baby swiss, swiss, alpine specialties and muenster curds. This festival of all things cheese, since 1914, invites cheese lovers from across the country to assemble and visit with their favorite cheese artisans.

Be sure to sample a few melty delicacies, like raclette, gourmet grilled cheese, hand-breaded cheese curds, and mac and cheese. Celebrate Wisconsin’s 180+ years of cheesemaking heritage and the deeply rooted traditions in this region by participating in the World’s Biggest Polka Dance, experiencing yodeling and alphorns, and witnessing old-time copper kettle cheesemaking.

Art of Cheese Festival tents

Meet Cheesemakers in Madison

Imagine all your favorite Wisconsin cheesemakers in one place. Cheese Fair Off the Square on September 28 is a dream come true for cheese lovers as it offers a chance for the public to get up close and personal with cheesemakers from across the state…for free!

This outdoor marketplace focused only on Wisconsin Cheese is adjacent to the famed Dane County Farmers’ Market on Madison's Capitol Square. Sample and purchase an enormous selection of award-winning cheeses, talk to the makers behind your favorite specialties and enjoy entertainment and cheese-centric food vendors.


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