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Road Trippin' Cheese Tour

MADISON- In our latest edition of Road Trippin were look at


"The farmer would pull up to the intake door with their horse and wagon and there's a hook out there that would come into these 30 gallon cans," explained Mary Ann Hanna of the National historic Chessemaking Center in Monroe.


The center is also home to a historic original factory where you can witness the birth of the cheese culture that led to Wisconsin's world-wide status as a cheese powerhouse.


Hanna grew up in Monroe, living it first-hand.


She gives tours at the center in Monroe. Its housed in the old train-depot. Its filled with artifacts of the deep roots of Cheesemaking in Wisconsin. At one time in Green County, there were 200 family-operated cheese factories, today only 12 remain.


"In many cases, we have factories here in Green County that are in their fourth generation, looking back at their grandfathers and great-grandfathers who made cheese in most cases, in the very same location, said Hanna.


About 20 minutes away, a distinct cheese tree greets visitors at this long-time Green County tradtition, Decatur Dairy.


Started in 1942 by 7 farms it continues to operate as a co-op between now 72 farms. Master Cheesemaker, Steve Settler.


"I'm a third-generation cheesemaker, Settler said. My grandpa came over from Switzerland. My dad made cheese his whole life and then I started in the 70's and been doing it ever since."


Decatur makes a variety of award-winning cheeses, which all start with milk churning in the vats.


From the curd, to the pour, to hand-turning each mold it all creates a special product


"Here at Decatur, it's the relationship between the farmer, the cheesemaker and the company," said Settler.


A little less than an hour and a half northwest of Madison you'd probably never expect that the world's winningest cheese is in this one-hundred year old factory in Lavalle.


"We make over 60 varities, said Emily McGlynn, Carr Valley cheesemaker. You can tell they're done with care. Each wheel is hand done. You don't get that in a lot of bigger places."


It's that care that keeps employees making thousands of pounds of cheese each day.


At the helm of it all is Master Cheesemaker, Sid Cook, a 4th generation cheesemaker.


"The first 20 years or so, I was in the factory making cheese, generally cheddar, colby, monterey jack, said Cook. The second 20 years I was doing American originals and specialty cheeses, so today we're doing more American originals.


We asked what Cooks favorite cheese is. We'll that's kinda like asking me which of my kids is my favorite, laughs Cook.


Carr Valley welcomes thousands of people a year to their 3 factories and 8 stores and they sell world-wide online. Of course one of their most popular items is the cheese curd.


Coming up the second Saturday in June you can help make cheese exactly like it was made 100 years ago at the Monroe Cheesemaking Day. For more information: http://www.nationalhistoriccheesemakingcenter.org/


Decatur Dairy: http://www.decaturdairy.com


Carr Valley Cheese: http://www.carrvalleycheese.com/


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