The Road To Master Cheesemaker

As the academic year wraps up with graduations at colleges and schools across the state, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program also had its latest class of graduates. Among the esteemed group is Sara Griesbach from Nasonville Dairy. Griesbach has made history by becoming the third woman ever to complete this prestigious program.

With over 1,200 licensed cheesemakers in Wisconsin, achieving the Master Cheesemaker certification is a distinguished honor. Wisconsin remains the only place outside of Switzerland to offer such a program, underscoring the state’s reputation as a leader in the dairy industry. The certification process is rigorous, demanding years of dedication and expertise.

Her Journey

Griesbach’s journey into cheesemaking began unexpectedly. After graduating high school, she attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, initially unsure of her career path. Her involvement in FFA and an early interest in food science led her to work in the university’s dairy plant, where her passion for cheesemaking was ignited. Changing her major to food science, she immersed herself in the art and science of cheese production, eventually becoming a student supervisor at the dairy plant.

“The industry called to me,” Griesbach recalls. “I knew cheese was my path after graduating.”

Becoming a Master Cheesemaker

The road to becoming a Master Cheesemaker is not for the faint of heart. Candidates must hold a cheesemaker license for at least 10 years before applying. The program involves producing specific types of cheese, obtaining industry recommendations, and completing several courses. The final steps include three rounds of cheese grading and a comprehensive exam that takes about 40 hours to complete.

Griesbach focused on Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses for her certification. These versatile cheeses are staples at Nasonville Dairy, where she has worked for the past eight years. Her certification enhances the dairy’s expertise and reputation, allowing them to better serve customers and address production challenges.

“Having another certified Master Cheesemaker at Nasonville is invaluable,” said Griesbach. “It means we can continue to innovate and maintain our high standards.”

Wisconsin’s passion for cheese is renowned, and the Master Cheesemaker Program is a testament to this dedication. It not only elevates the state’s cheesemaking standards but also strengthens Wisconsin’s reputation as America’s Dairyland. The program’s rigorous training ensures that Wisconsin cheese remains a cut above the rest.

Looking ahead, Griesbach has applied to certify in two more cheeses: feta and cheese curds. She encourages aspiring cheesemakers, especially women, to pursue the Master Cheesemaker certification.

“It’s an incredible program. Start early, network with other cheesemakers, and take the required courses gradually. It’s a tremendous honor to be part of this community.”

photo Courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Photos courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.