One hundred years ago cheese makers from Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Italy and Scandinavia migrated to Wisconsin to further influence the 200-year-old cheese industry with their native and age-old techniques. An impressive 35,000 dairy farms in the state fuel monumental amounts of cheese production. If you’re lucky enough to be around Monroe, Wisconsin when they are celebrating the biannual Green County Cheese Days, be prepared to be overwhelmed with a wave of samples, parading cows and cheesy food stands – this is a good depiction of the cheese scene all in one spot, at one time. Otherwise, come follow the Wisconsin Cheese Trail, and taste creations from these top spots.
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Wisconsin Cheese Mart (Nearby Hotels)
Situated in Milwaukee, this market has been offering cheese for nearly half as long as the industry has existed in the state! From small batch varieties to the ever classic cheese curd—which is the youngest type of cheese, scooped from the vat before the cheddar or another type of cheese is pressed—the Wisconsin Cheese Mart’s list seems endless. At the adjoined Uber Tap Room, favorite cheeses are paired with wine and local beer—specific tasting events are on the calendar, so keep a look out for those!
Widmer’s Cheese Cellars (Nearby Hotels)
If you want straight forward classics, come here, because they have mastered simpler cheeses we all love, like Colby, Wisconsin Aged Brick, and a bold 10-year-old cheddar that will knock your cheese loving socks off. Trek to Theresa, Wisconsin to have a taste. Widmer’s is that pleasantly simple experience that just screams cheese country.
Fromagination (Nearby Hotels)
Wisconsin has the cheese game fully covered, even when it comes to artisanal as well. Because remember? Immigrants brought a plethora of old world methods to the states, and have cultivated them further with the notorious dairy supply. Fromagination is a cozy little nook with stone floors and a rustic feel – here, taste buds will come alive. They have some incredible sandwiches which incorporate their cheeses, like the mile high Great Wisconsin, with Genoa salami, Italian prosciutto, Tuscan salami, Wisconsin Roth mozzarella, provolone, baby greens, balsamic dressing and olive oil all on a three-cheese miche bread.
Mullins Cheese (Nearby Hotels)
Head over to Knowlton to taste some of the best curds in the state. Fried curds are something you’ll see a lot, at a variation of restaurants or shops, and Mullins has perfected the method. Not a fan of fried? Get them “squeaky”, also known as “not fried”. The store also offers an enormous list of state cheeses, from Brick, Asiago, Gouda, Havarti—this place is your cheese oyster. Sausages, pizzas and other tasting pairings can be picked up as well.
Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese (Nearby Hotels)
For generations, this Kiel located factory has been producing cheese, and they’ve won many awards for the incredible flavor variations like the simple cheddar! While cheese tasting should be your focus upon visiting, one can try to get a peek into the industry as a whole, as there’s a historical museum onsite with neat equipment from back in the day on display. Of course, guests can also look into the factory to see a little bit of curd action too.
Dane County Farmers Market (Nearby Hotels)
This Madison located farmers market is a locally sourced dream. Seriously, the place is overflowing with organic veggies, baked treats, snacks like kettle corn, and you guessed it, cheese! It’s all very “Wisconsin” since all the vendors are from the area. So if you want a culinary experience of epic proportions, that will expose you to much of the iconic flavors of the state, this is it. The Saturday Market is on the square from 6:15am to 1:45pm, and runs from April to November. There is also a winter market.
The Old Fashioned (Nearby Hotels)
Creativity is the word at The Old Fashioned, an eclectic little joint in Madison cultivating unique pairings with classic cheeses. Local ingredients are the center focus of each dish, and of course, there’d be local brews too. Go straight forward with the Wisconsin Cheese Plate featuring four variations with fruit, toasted walnuts and blue cheese with honey, or dive into the summer sausage sandwich on rye, also topped with mustard, shaved red onions and Muenster cheese.
Cedar Grove Cheese (Nearby Hotels)
Visitors can come and tour this interesting organic cheese producer’s facilities for just three dollars, and you’ll learn a wealth of information to how this real, authentic organic cheese is made, as well as the history behind it. Located in quaint Plain, Wisconsin, it’s a relaxing day of driving through pretty areas and getting your hands on rare cheeses only found at their shop. Try the award-winning marble Colby or the creamy Muenster.
Clock Shadow Creamery (Nearby Hotels)
Another Milwaukee gem, Clock Shadow Creamery offers three dollar tours for cheese enthusiasts, and yes, you get to taste test. They’ll also whip up one heck of a cheese plate for customers or will host an hour-long cheese tasting. Don’t forget to try a grilled cheese sandwich! Classic and amazing.
Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern (Nearby Hotels)
Come in to just buy cheese and meats at Wisconsin’s oldest cheese store, or skip over to the tavern to sit down for a meal. Probably the most iconic menu item would be the Limburger Cheese Sandwich, because it’s made with a rare, very specifically produced cheese that only one creamery is executing the traditional way—so that’s quite special.