Rural Port creamery receives national recognition

Blakesville honored with Good Food Award for Sunny Ridge goat cheese, as well as social, environmental standards

BLAKESVILLE CREAMERY in the Town of Port Washington, which has a sizable goat herd, recently received the national Good Food Award for its semi-firm goat cheese and its humane and sustainable goat operation.
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

Blakesville Creamery in Port Washington has been awarded the national 2022 Good Food Award for its semi-firm goat cheese, a significant accomplishment for a business that opened mid-pandemic.

The goat cheese, called Sunny Ridge, is washed in a sour beer that has notes of peaches crafted by Is/Was Brewing in Chicago.

The award is given to food producers throughout the country that have mastered their craft while also maintaining high social and environmental standards in their work.

Winning products are selected in a blind test of thousands of foods before going through a rigorous vetting process to ensure the they were made using best social and environmental practices.

The only other Wisconsin cheese producer that received the Good Food Award this year was Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville.

Blakesville Creamery uses milk from the adjacent Blakesville Dairy Farm, which raises more than 1,000 goats using sustainable and humane farming practices. The creamery and dairy farm were established in 2020.

The woman-owned and operated creamery runs under the leadership of head cheese maker and general manager Veronica Pedraza, business manager Juli Kaufmann and owner Lynde Uihlein.

“While making delicious cheese locally is our aim, it’s equally important to us that we treat our animals, our planet and each other as well as we are able,” Uihlein said.         Pedraza said oftentimes it can take years for a creamery to earn awards like the Good Food Award, but she is no beginner in the cheese realm.

“I have been making cheese for 15 years for some of the country’s best artisan cheese producers so it is not as if we are starting from scratch,” she said. “That said, it is always nice to receive awards from our industry peers, and winning this award is the motivation to keep improving our products.”

Pedraza began her cheesemaking career 15 years ago as an apprentice for Sweet Grass Dairy in Georgia before moving to Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm as creamery manager. In 2012 she began making her own cheeses at Meadowood Farms in upstate New York, where she won numerous awards for her Ledyard, Rippleton, Strawbridge and Lorenzo cheeses.

Pedraza has also worked as a monger for some of America’s best cheese counters, including Chicago’s All Together Now and Pastoral Artisan Cheese and Saxelby Cheesemongers in New York City.

Pedraza began development of  Blakesville Creamery in 2018 and began making cheese in the newly-constructed production facility in June 2020.

The pandemic presented an early challenge to the operation as businesses shut down and people were urged to stay home.

During this time the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection halted inspections and licensing, preventing Blakesville staff from beginning operations.

“We were unable to operate or make cheese until the first week of July 2020,” Pedraza said.

The award winning cheese was modeled after a French cheese called St. Nectarine, Pedraza said, adding it took her a couple tweaks to make the recipe her own.  

“There are guiding principles for every type of cheese,” she said. “Follow the rules and tweak to adapt to your process and/or type of milk.”

Blakesville is not open to the public but its cheeses can be found at Bernie’s Fine Meats in Port Washington and other stores throughout the country.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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