Jerry Heimerl, Saxon Creamery

"To make a world class cheese, you need: Great people with a passion for making outstanding cheese.  A world class creamery is a necessity, so we built one in Cleveland Wisconsin, along the shores of Lake Michigan, near Hika Bay.  Finally, you need high quality milk produced from healthy pastured cows, and a great working environment for team members at the farm and the creamery."   ~ The Klessig and Heimerl Families

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One family, one herd, one farm. The cheeses that come from Saxon Homestead Creamery in Cleveland, Wis., all start with the milk of one herd of cows who graze on fresh grass in the summer, and eat preserved grass and hay in the winter. Gerald (Jerry) Heimerl, his wife, Elise, along with her brothers and their families, today manage the Saxon homestead farm and nearby creamery, a tribute to their ancestors who emigrated from Germany in the 1840s. Saxon cheeses, such as Big Ed's, Green Fields, Saxony and Pastures, reflect the different seasons in the herd's diet. Jerry calls it "flavor by nature." We call it "really good cheese."

In 1848, the ancestors of the Klessig family came from Saxony, Germany sailed across the ocean in search of land and opportunity.  Their formidable journey brought them to the rich lakeshore soils of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.  On these fertile soils began the family legacy of dairy farming.  Cattle grazing on lush spring, summer and autumn grasses produced more milk than the family needed.  By 1870, they were making cheese to preserve and share their milk.  Pride in tradition runs deep as they care for the land, family, and cattle.

Today Saxon Homestead Farm is a pasture based dairy farm owned and operated by fifth generation family members Karl & Liz Klessig, Robert & Kathy Block-Klessig, and Jerry & Elise Klessig Heimerl and their families. The farm consists of 850 acres of permanent pasture land and an additional 200 acres forage and corn silage cropland. There are about 450 Holstein-Jersey crossbred cows and their young stock in the dairy herd. Only the milk from their herd of dairy cattle grazing on the family farm is used to make their family of American original Saxon Classic Cheeses.

Jeff Mattes is a classic Wisconsin cheesemaker. A long family history in the business led him to pursue it as his profession. A lifetime of cheesemaking has made Jeff aware of Wisconsin's unique place in the industry, and more than a little proud of the state's cheese. Jeff is one of the few people that hold 4 Master CheeseMaker Certificates. He is a master of Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, and Fontina.

Big Ed's is a mountain-style cheese, Big Ed's is a cooked, pressed cheese made from raw cow's milk and weighing in at about 15lbs. The rind is smooth, thin and golden-brown in color, imprinted with the famous Saxon logo. The aromas are clean and milk with a dense and smooth texture.   The flavor is mild, rich, milky, and clean with notes of brown butter and caramel.

Green Fields is an unpressed, semifirm, washed rind cheese made from raw cow's milk. The cheese has a pale, creamy yellow color, becoming darker towards the rind. The texture is dense and slightly flaky, yet supple. Although flavors vary somewhat with the seasons, generally the cheeses taste clean and lactic, with notes of butter, caramel and grass.

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