Ten Makers Elevate to Masters

Pictured back row (from left): Tony Hook, Hook’s Cheese Company, Inc.; Michael Newman, BelGioioso® Cheese; Matt Eardley, Klondike Cheese Company; Kirk Hansen, Nasonville Dairy, Inc.; and Jason Radke, BelGioioso® Cheese. Front row: Brian Jackson, Nasonville Dairy, Inc.; Sara Griesbach, Nasonville Dairy, Inc.; Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Company; Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese Company; and Aaron Quick, Sartori® Cheese.

The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program is proud to announce the graduation of its 2024 class, which consists of 10 exceptional cheesemakers, including the second-most certified Master and third-ever female Master. 

Wisconsin is home to over 1,200 licensed cheesemakers who produce an astonishing array of more than 600 cheese varieties. However, for those seeking to reach the pinnacle of their craft, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker certification is the ultimate achievement. The program is a joint effort by the UW-Madison Center for Dairy Research and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is the only place outside of Switzerland where a cheesemaker can achieve this level of expertise. 

“This certification (and honor) is hard to come by, and it’s certainly not an easy feat,” says Chad Vincent, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. “Only a select few earn the prestigious title of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker. These individuals have dedicated years to perfecting their skills, honing their craft, and expanding their knowledge of cheese production.”

Sara Griesbach, newly certified Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker at Nasonville Dairy, Inc., has become the third-ever woman to complete the prestigious Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program. Griesbach, alongside nine other graduates, earned medals at the Graduating 2024 Master Cheesemaker Class ceremony held on April 18.

Also from Nasonville Dairy, Inc. is Brian Jackson, returning for his ninth and 10th certifications. That makes him the second-most decorated cheesemaker in the program after Bruce Workman, who holds 13 certifications. This year, Jackson is earning certifications in Queso Blanco and Cheese Curds.

The 2024 graduating class welcomes five new Masters and five returning Masters for new certifications.

New Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers: 

  • Sara Griesbach, Nasonville Dairy, Inc., Curtiss & Marshfield
    • Certified Master: Cheddar and Monterey Jack
  • Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese Company, Dodgeville
    • Certified Master: Hard Surface Ripened Cheese (Pleasant Ridge Reserve)
  • Michael Newman, BelGioioso® Cheese, Freedom
    • Certified Master: Fresh Mozzarella
  • Aaron Quick, Sartori® Cheese, Antigo
    • Certified Master: Asiago and Parmesan
  • Jason Radke, BelGioioso® Cheese, Freedom
    • Certified Master: Fresh Mozzarella and Ricotta

Returning Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers: 

  • Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Company, Monroe
    • Certified Master: Brick and Gouda
  • Matt Erdley, Klondike Cheese Company, Monroe
    • Certified Master: Gouda and Havarti
  • Kirk Hansen, Nasonville Dairy, Marshfield
    • Certified Master: Asiago and Cheese
  • Tony Hook, Hook’s Cheese Company, Inc., Mineral Point
    • Certified Master: Cheddar
  • Brian Jackson, Nasonville Dairy, Inc., Marshfield
    • Certified Master: Cheese Curds and Queso

Once certified, these Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers join an exclusive group of individuals recognized as the best in their field. Their expertise and knowledge are highly sought after, and they play a crucial role in preserving and advancing Wisconsin’s rich cheesemaking tradition. Look for the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Seal to support a Master who has devoted their career to perfecting the art of cheese.