Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese

Pleasant Ridge Reserve is widely recognized as one of the best artisan cheeses made in America. 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 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, and made a repeat performance at ACS in 2005, taking Best of Show for a second time and most recently in 2010. It is the only cheese ever to have won both the ACS Best of Show and the U.S. Contest top prizes.

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Growing up on a Midwest dairy farm instilled in Mike Gingrich a 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. When children arrived, Mike and Carol decided the time was right to make a life change and return to the farm to start milking about 30 cows… enough to convince them that they had made the right decision.

Eventually, the couple partnered with friends Dan and Jean Patenaud to buy a picturesque farm near Dodgeville, Wisconsin.  Uplands founders were rotationally grazing their herd, and searched for traditional cheeses being made from similar milk sources.  They settled on French Alpine Beaufort as the best end product for their milk and for this market.  All milk comes from the Uplands herd of about 300 cross-bread cows.  Breed mix includes Holstein, Brown Swiss, Jersey, Normandy, Ayrshire, Tarentaise, and several other rare French breads. Mix is designed to accommodate rotational grazing lifestyle and quality milk production.

The partners have not looked back on another life-changing decision to use the uniquely flavorful milk from his farm to produce a signature artisan cheese.  Cheesemaking seemed like a natural choice, particularly given the quality of the milk. The aging techniques that they use were developed in the Middle Ages, when cheeses similar to Pleasant Ridge were aged in limestone caves and washed frequently with a brine solution. Pleasant Ridge got its name because the farm is located on lands within this Uplands region once called Pleasant Ridge. The terroir of the farm is so important to the quality of our milk, and ultimately to our cheese. The cheese is made right on the farm, so we wanted it to have regional identification.

ANDY HATCH AND MICHAEL THOMAS WEB 2.jpgThe reins of cheesemaking have now been handed over to Andy Hatch, who is now the cheese maker and general manager. After studying Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and spending two years apprenticing to cheesemakers in different parts of Europe, Andy returned to Wisconsin and served apprenticeships under Master Cheesemakers Bruce Workman and Gary Grossen.

In 2007, Andy earned his Wisconsin Cheesemaker's License and joined Uplands as an assistant cheesemaker to Mike Gingrich and Joe Milinovich. In 2008, he took over responsibility for the production and aging of the cheese and has subsequently come to manage all of the creamery's operations.




Awards

  • 2001 Best of Show, American Cheese Society Competition
  • 2005 Best of Show, American Cheese Society Competition
  • 2010 Best of Show, American Cheese Society Competition


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