The Debut of the Wisconsin Artisan Cheesemaker Guild
Wisconsin is the most prolific cheese producing state in the United States, making as many as 600 different varieties of cheese; it has more licensed cheesemakers than any other U.S. state, to boot. So it didn’t come as a surprise when I received the news.
Similar to other state cheese guilds, The Wisconsin Artisan Cheesemaker Guild is a member-based organization offering networking and educational opportunities for beginning and current artisan and farmstead cheesemakers in Wisconsin. With two workshops already scheduled this summer, they’re moving full steam ahead.
Carpenter recently shared all sorts of details about the new guild, which is meant to be a sister organization to Wisconsin Cheese Originals, a 200-member group catering to cheese education for consumers. Together, both organizations celebrate Wisconsin artisan and farmstead cheesemakers.
The Wisconsin Artisan Cheesemaker Guild currently has 28 members and is open to beginning or current artisan or farmstead cheesemakers within the state of Wisconsin (associate memberships for retailers may be added in the future, Carpenter said, so stay tuned). Guild members pay an annual fee of $150 per company, and all employees of member companies are invited to attend or participate in all activities. Some specific educational workshops or tours have additional fees to help cover expenses; you can stay abreast of that info and all events at wicheeseguild.com.
"The guild is an opportunity for smaller cheese companies to gain access to more information about cheese aging, new cheesemaking styles, and to visit other cheesemakers in Wisconsin and abroad to expand their knowledge," Carpenter said. She plans to organize at least two educational workshops and two membership meetings per year.
The Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute (WSCI) is helping facilitate that by sponsoring the guild for the first two years. In fact, all guild members become WSCI members and gain access to WSCI programming and benefits, so only new guild members who are not already WSCI members need pay the $150 guild membership fee. Current WSCI members who are also artisan or farmstead cheesemakers are encouraged to join the guild in order to be invited to all events.