Sunday, September 14 1:00PM—2:00PMChef/Producer Panel Business Seminar
BiographyUplands Cheese is a farmstead operation using the milk from a single dairy herd, rotationally grazed on pasture grasses, herbs and wildflowers. Uplands’ owner and Artisanal cheesemaker, Mike Gingrich, grew up on a Midwest dairy farm, which instilled in him a profound love for the land and a deep appreciation for farm life. Even after marrying his high-school sweetheart, Carol, and leaving the Midwest for California on a career path with Xerox Corp., his yearning for rural life endured. Following the birth of their children, the Gingrichs decided it was time to return to the farm. Eventually, the couple partnered with friends Dan and Jean Patenaud to buy a postcard-perfect 300-acre farm near Dodgeville, Wisconsin, where they raised some 30 dairy cows using a traditional, but rarely used, rotational grazing-style of farming.
Gingrich has never looked back on the move or another life-changing decision – to use the flavorful milk from their largely grass-fed cows to produce a signature artisan cheese. Gingrich got his cheesemaking license and researched a wide variety of cheeses to determine what he’d make. “Our style of farming and milk production, with the cows moving from one fresh pasture to the next from spring through fall, resembled the traditions followed for centuries in the alpine regions of southeastern France,” Gingrich says. “Ultimately, we settled on a farmstead, raw-milk Beaufort-style cheese. The aging techniques we use were developed in the Middle Ages, when cheeses similar to ours were aged in limestone caves and washed frequently with a brine solution. We named it Pleasant Ridge Reserve because our farm is located on lands within this Uplands region once called Pleasant Ridge.”
Today, Pleasant Ridge Reserve is widely recognized as one of the best artisanal cheeses made in America; it is made only in the summer months, making for limited supply. In 2001, its first year of production, it took “Best of Show” at the prestigious American Cheese Society competition. It was named “America’s Best Cheese” in the 2003 US Championship Cheese Contest, and made a repeat performance at ACS in 2005, taking “Best of Show” for a second time. It is the only cheese to have ever won both the ACS Best of Show and the US Contest top prizes.