MADISON, Wis. — If you ask anyone to identify what makes Wisconsin special, they are likely to say cheese.
Wisconsin cheesemakers have the same sense of pride and passion for what they do as some of the world’s best authors, athletes and architects – which inspires them to do things they’d otherwise only dream of doing – like write best-selling novels, compete in the Olympics and build the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Because when you are truly passionate about something, you will dedicate your entire life to it.
So that’s why in Wisconsin, the cheesemakers are determined to become masters.
This year marks an exciting milestone with the 25th anniversary of the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program – the nation’s most advanced education program in the art and science of cheesemaking. Its rigorous standards are a key factor driving Wisconsin’s dairy innovation and leadership forward, despite an increasingly competitive national and global marketplace.
Becoming a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker is no small feat. It requires ten years of experience as a licensed cheesemaker, several years of coursework, a three-year apprenticeship, a written exam that can take up to 50 hours to complete and a lifetime commitment to cheese. The time it takes to complete the program is comparable to the time it takes to become a doctor.
“It’s no secret that Wisconsin wins more awards for its cheese than any other state, region or nation,” says Suzanne Fanning, Senior Vice President for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Chief Marketing Officer for Wisconsin Cheese. “What may be a secret, though, is Wisconsin’s own Master Cheesemaker program. It is one of the key drivers for our state’s high honors.”
It’s an intense commitment and impressive accomplishment to become a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker – one that only 90 cheesemakers have achieved in the past 25 years. Wisconsin and Switzerland are the only places in the world with this level of education.
Wisconsin began making cheese before it was even a state and the first people to settle in Wisconsin were expert cheesemakers from places like Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Their cheesemaking expertise was one of the few things they brought with them. They chose Wisconsin because the soil, water and climate provided the perfect conditions for doing what they’d been doing for centuries in the Old World… making great cheese.
To celebrate this momentous milestone, Wisconsin Cheese is traveling the country to tell these stories and showcase the new personalized Master’s Marks, which identify products only made by Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers. Follow along on Instagram for the #MasterMonday weekly series along with other video and storytelling content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Learn more about the program jointly sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research by visiting WisconsinCheese.com.
About Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin: Funded by Wisconsin dairy farmers, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that focuses on marketing and promoting Wisconsin’s world-class dairy products. For more information, visit our website at wisconsindairy.org.
About Wisconsin Cheese: The tradition of cheesemaking excellence began more than 150 years ago, beforeWisconsin was recognized as a state. Wisconsin’s 1,200 cheesemakers, many of whom are third- and fourth-generation, continue to pass on old-world traditions while adopting modern innovations in cheesemaking craftsmanship. For more information, visit WisconsinCheese.com or connect on Facebook.