True Swiss-style cheese that is made in Wisconsin may seem unlikely. While the Dairy State has produced quality cheese for over a century, mastering Swiss-style cheese-making requires near-perfect conditions. Fresh off a trip to Schuman's Cheeses near northern Wisconsin’s Turtle Lake, Jeanette Hurt found that Wisconsin cheese makers are creating products similar to the highly sought-after Alpine cheeses of Switzerland.
“You can actually make a Swiss fondue using just Wisconsin cheeses,” says Hurt. Traditional Swiss fondue consists of Gruyère and Emmentaler cheeses blended with dry white wine and cherry brandy. Using techniques he learned in France, head cheese maker Christophe Megevand is able to create hard French Alpine-style cheeses along with the Italian cheeses that Schuman’s Cheeses specializes in.
Wisconsin’s climate, known for being ideal for dairy production, falls short on a key feature of the French Alps: altitude. However, Hurt maintains that the cheeses created at Schuman’s are excellent substitutes for Swiss cheeses with local flair.
“They’re using similar methods, they’re using similar cultures. But ultimately, the milk and the environment is different.”