The original production of Pleasant Ridge Reserve began as a collaboration between Mike & Carol Gingrich in conjunction with their business partners, Dan and Jeanne Patenaude.
Having had a successful career in the corporate world with Xerox, Mike decided to realize a long-held ambition to create a farmstead cheese operation modeled after the traditional practices found in the French Alps. Together they acquired Uplands Farm, in southern Wisconsin in the mid 1990's and immediately set to work to improve the quality of the pasture, which was sown with specific varieties of grasses, clovers, herbs and wild flowers.
The cows at Uplands deliberately consist of a variety of well-known milking breeds and crossed genetics with a view to producing the highest possible quality of milk. The farm incorporates rotational grazing by creating 20 separate pastures on their 244 acre farm.
In 2007, cheesemaker Andy Hatch joined the business and has now taken over responsibility for the cheesemaking from Mike. Also, Dan and Jeanne have recently retired, yet leaving a great legacy of a very high quality milking herd that still provides 100% of the milk for cheese production.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made to a traditional Beaufort recipe and in accordance with Beaufort traditions, cheesemaking only takes place when the pasture is at its best between May and early October. Pleasant Ridge reserve has been awarded the American Cheese Society's Best in Show three times in 2001, 2005 and 2010.
For production, the main stages of a Beaufort recipe are followed. Curds are cut and then re-heated to a higher temperature to expel the whey, before being pressed under the whey in the vat. The curd is then transferred into the molds, where the young cheeses are pressed overnight before being turned out and allowed to dry on racks.
During the aging process, wheels are washed regularly with a brine solution that encourages the growth of the bacterium linens mold and the development of the rind.
The flavors of Pleasant Ridge Reserve are very similar to a good Beaufort; rich, deep and smooth with pleasing hints of caramel and salt and complex layers of grass and flora. The length of flavor is extraordinary. The texture of the cheese is firm and smooth with an orange-brown rind and caramel-gold colored interior paste.
Pleasant Ridge is sold at two ages - Regular (nine months), and Extra Aged (12-15 months). The older cheese has a more intense flavor.