From the dairy farm to your fridge, the cheddar journey is an adventure. The Widmer family has been handcrafting Cheddar since 1922.
In recent years, our Cheddars have more age to satisfy the palate of the distinctive, artisan-style cheese lover. Original family recipes and select cultures (with no shortcuts) gives our Cheddars a more sophisticated and complex flavor profile.
Widmer still washes the Cheddar curds before salting and placing in forms to lower the amount of lactose, which reduces bitterness and the final product.
Our super aged Cheddars have an intense flavor with hints of caramel, and are known for being very smooth without bitterness associated with some aged Cheddars. Also available with Jalapeño peppers.
Widmer’s Cheese Cellars was founded in 1922, over 90 years ago, by Swiss immigrant John O. Widmer. He instilled in us an approach to cheesemaking that has been carried on through four generations of our family. His motto was “take no shortcuts and accept nothing less than the best.”
Embracing the techniques which has been handed down through generations of European and Wisconsin cheesemakers, Widmer’s carefully produces some of the finest Brick, Colby and Cheddar cheese in the world. The cheese are handcrafted today under the watchful eye of 3rd generation Certified Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer. Joe’s son, Joey Widmer, has recently graduated from college and has joined the team. He is learning the business from top to bottom to see if he indeed wants to pursue a career in cheese. Joe’s daughter, Hannah, is a high school senior and also works in the plant.
Entering Widmer’s Cheese Cellars in the tiny town of Theresa, Wis. is like stepping back in time. Adorned with the flags of Swiss cantons on the outside, the plant inside affords visitors a close-up look at the making of some of the Dairy State’s best, most classic cheese varieties.
Just a step down from a small retail area sits the “make room,” its traditional open vats being carefully tended, curds being stirred or hand-scooped into forms, or the famous Widmer bricks being gently placed atop the forms to press the whey out of the signature Brick cheese.
For Widmer, growing up in a cheesemaking family instilled in him great pride in producing top-quality cheese and a reverence for doing things “the old-fashioned way.” “From the time I was 6 years old, I remember helping out in the plant,” he says. “I’d come down in the morning and do my job before going to school. At the end of the day, I always took pride in the fine products my father had made and his commitment to always be the best he could be. That’s what keeps me going and makes me believe that sticking to tradition—not taking any shortcuts—is the way to go. The way I see it, it’s like comparing Grandma’s donuts to Dunkin’ Donuts. I’ll take Grandma’s every time.”
Today, Widmer’s cheese is widely hailed for its authenticity, handcrafted quality and consistency. The company makes a wide range of cheeses, but is best known for its traditional stirred-curd Wisconsin Colby, award-winning aged Cheddar and, of course, classic Wisconsin Aged Brick.
“Brick, particularly the surface-ripened, foil-wrapped version, has always been our calling card,” Widmer says. “It’s a Wisconsin cheese original and is one of the finest cheeses we make. Because it’s a washed-rind cheese that’s aged longer, it develops robust flavor. We’re seeing demand for it increasing as consumers seek out more distinctive artisanal cheeses.”
Following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, Widmer says he’ll continue to maintain and grow his family’s cheesemaking traditions. And, like his father, he strives to never stop learning. He’s one of a handful of cheesemakers in Wisconsin to have earned the title of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker, having completed a rigorous three-year advanced training program for veteran cheesemakers. Widmer has completed the course not once, but twice, earning Master certification in Brick, Cheddar and Colby varieties.