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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wine and Cheese

One thing that Wisconsin has going for it is its cheese factories. And a lot of those factories offer tours and tastings. You’ve got my attention now! (As a child, my favorite place to get a treat was at the Hickory Farms stores where you could sample different cheeses before you bought. I developed my palate young!)

In past years we have visited Carr Valley and Cady cheese factories – both which are excellent. This year I wanted to try some new places.

The first was Cedar Grove Cheese (http://my.execpc.com/~cgcheese/ ). They offer cheese that is certified organic and hormone free. I focused on their artisan cheeses and bought Butterkase, Goat Milk Monterey Jack, and Dante (Sheep Milk). All were mild and delicious! I also bought some as gifts and had those shipped (mine was shipped with them and I retrieved them at the end of the trip.

We also visited Dairy State Cheese Co, north of Wisconsin Rapids. They had a huge selection of all the common cheeses and many different varieties of curds. In addition, they have an ice cream parlor! The “Cherry Amaretto Fudge” was WONDERFUL!!

And keeping to the tradition, what’s cheese without a bit of wine?

So we visited Wollersheim Winery (http://www.wollersheim.com/ ). The vines were first planted in 1840 but the variety was not able to stand up to the WI winters. Over 100 years later it was bought by the Wollersheims and they are experiencing great success. It was interesting because they gave a tour of the winery…not just samples of the wine.

One interesting thing I learned is that Cream of Tartar is a by-product of wine production. It is the crystallized form of Tartaric acid produced by grapes. During the aging process in barrels the crystals form on the sides. Once the barrels go out of production from age, the crystals are scraped to make Cream of Tartar.

Stirring the cheese curds.


Packing the curds into 40 lb. boxes

Sealing


Bringing home the cheese!


Wollersheim Winery


The grapes on steep slopes produce the dryest wines.


Ready for harvest.


Fermenting room.

Aging in oak casks.


Cream of Tartar.

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