Pleasant Ridge Reserve

by Richard-Luis Morillo

If you happen to catch one of our cheese mongers on a bad day and you ask them for something from Wisconsin, you might catch them wincing for just a moment. There is little doubt that they’re thinking of some of the horrors that industrial cheese production has wrought upon the modern American diet and palette. Give them a second to collect their thoughts and perhaps, wipe a tear and they’ll direct you to Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company. This cheese helped to lead the American artisan cheese renaissance and is just about the polar opposite of Wisconsin’s factory made cheese.

Uplands Cheese Company was formed in 1994 in the green, rolling hills of Dodgeville, Wisconsin. In the short time since its birth, Pleasant Ridge Reserve has managed to collect a startling number of awards, winning best in show at the US championship cheese contest and twice taking the same title at the American Cheese Society conference. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is an alpine style cheese, one to rival even the richest Beauforts and Comtes. The decision to make an alpine style cheese was made after carefully examining the ideal cheese for their milk, which is high in fat and rich in micro flora. In other words, the cheese makers at Uplands Farm allowed the land they were on and the milk that they had to dictate the product they would make as opposed to formulating an idea first and then trying to make the pieces they had fit.

The resulting cheese contains a rich yet subtle array of flavors, ranging from the clover and grasses of the summer wheels to the deeper hazelnut flavors that can be found in the older autumn and winter wheels (no new milk in the frigid Midwestern winter). Occasionally you’ll even be able to try one of our house aged wheels at our Rittenhouse Square location, where we continue the aging process in our cheese caves in order to draw out a deeper & more powerful flavor. We think you’ll find that Pleasant Ridge Reserve is a rewarding taste experience at any age and a strong argument for producing cheese the old fashioned way.


cheese underground lady

Actually, Wisconsin is making quite a few very good artisan cheeses these days. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is one of several that have won national awards in the past five years. Another favorite of mine is Marieke Gouda, a farmstead cheese made in Thorp, Wis. Cheesemaker Marieke Penterman just won eight awards for her goudas at the American Cheese Society conference in Chicago.


your snide and snobbish comments about Wisconsin are simply wrong and show a lack of knowledge about cheesemaking and a lack of appreciation for one of the richest cheesemaking regions on earth. (Just what is that constitutes a factory?) It appears you missed the results of the American Cheese Society’s annual competition held late last month. In it, Wisconsin cheesemakers took home 91 awards — twice as many as the next closest state. Five of the past nine Best In Show awards have gone to Wisconsin cheesemakers. Wisconsin is the only state with true Master cheesemakers. And when it comes to history, Wisconsin was making specialty and artisan cheeses when the rest of the country didn’t know there were such things. While many of today’s cheesemakers were working in office jobs, Wisconsin cheesemakers were callingon food editors and trying to convince them that fat wasn’t the enemy, which helped create the environment we have today where cheese is recognized as one of life’s great art forms. What you should be saying is thank god for Wisconsin cheesemakers for they built the domestic cheese market and are leading the way in artisan cheesemaking as well. As a Wisconsin cheese lover, I’m taking your site off my favorites list and will stop buying from you until you change your tune.


Dear Anonymous,

Admittedly, the author’s sarcastic tone is only barely detectable, and I understand your frustration with a seemingly brash generalization. However I assure you that we are gigantic fans of cheese from Wisconsin. Aside from Pleasant Ridge, we sell Les Freres from Crave Brothers, Gruyere Surchoix, Gran Queso and Knight’s Vail from Rothkase, Vintage Van Gogh, and probably the finest example of domestic Provolone from Grande.

Perhaps the author could have made mention of these and other Wisconsin cheeses that we sell so as not to give the impression that Pleasant Ridge Reserve was the only good cheese from Wisconsin. As the editor of this blog, I will be more cautious to prevent comments that you might consider snide or snobbish.

I must retort, however, to one comment you made. Wisconsin is far from the only state to contain “True Master Cheesemakers.” This is a great discredit to Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont, Mark Gillman of Cato Corner in Connecticut, Mary Keehn of Cypress Grove in Humboldt County, California, Soyoung Scanlan from San Francisco, Judy Schad from Indiana, as well as myriad artisans who win awards not only domestically, but internationally.

I assure you that we are constantly trying to expand our offerings of American cheeses, and if you would like to suggest some from Wisconsin that we are missing, feel free. Some of our best relationships manifested from a customer’s suggestion.

I hope that this, in some way, assuages your frustrations. I hope that you will consider re-inserting us into your favorites list.


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