Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A New Day at Uplands Cheese

Uplands Cheese, home to the much-awarded Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese, is officially under new ownership. Cheesemaker Andy Hatch and Herdsman Scott Mericka, both of whom began as apprentices years ago at Uplands, announced today they have purchased the dairy farm and cheese company from its founders, Mike Gingrich and Dan Patenaude.

Most industry folks know that Hatch and Mericka have been managing the farm since 2010, leading to a gradual transition to the new management. Andy says the official papers were signed in February, and Uplands Cheese now officially belongs to a new generation.

Mike and Carol Gingrich are pleased with the transfer. “This has been a long time in the works and we couldn’t be more pleased to see the farm, the cows and the cheese pass into such capable hands,” Mike says.

Uplands Cheese was founded in 2000, when Gingrich and Patenaude began crafting Pleasant Ridge Reserve with the grass-fed milk of their cows. In 2001, the cheese vaulted to fame after winning the coveted Best of Show award at the annual American Cheese Society competition. It repeated the honor in 2005 and again in 2010, while also being named U.S. Champion Cheese in 2003. To date, Pleasant Ridge Reserve is the only cheese to have won ACS Best of Show three times, and is the only cheese to have won both of the major, national competitions.

Hatch, who has overseen cheese production since 2007, believes the Pleasant Ridge Reserve crafted today is better than ever. “We’ve continued to improve our pastures and our herd, and every year we refine our work in the ripening rooms, to the point where almost every batch is as good as the standout batches of several years ago,” he said.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made only in the summer months, while the farm’s cows are on pasture. In 2010, Hatch added a second cheese to the Uplands repertoire. Rush Creek Reserve is a soft-ripened cheese wrapped in a strip of spruce bark and made with the hay-fed milk of autumn months. Rush Creek Reserve cheese quickly attainted cult status in the cheese world, and continues to sell out quickly each November and December, when it’s sold across the country.

Congratulations to Uplands Cheese! We can't wait to see what you do next.


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