Owned by Willi Lehner and his partner Qu'itas, Bleu Mont Dairy is located just west of Madison, Wisconsin.
Bleu Mont Dairy is part of a farm committed to sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. Much of the farm's energy is drawn from a 10kw wind generator, and there are also solar panels in use.
Willi comes from a family of Swiss cheesemakers, and Bleu Mont Dairy began about 20 years ago when Willi started making an array of Swiss-style cheeses. However, in the last few years, he started to develop a line of original artisan cheeses that show off his cheesemaking talents to the fullest.
Milk for production is organically certified and from pasture grazed cows, sourced from local dairies. Willi makes his cheeses either at the Cedar Grove cheese plant or at the nearby Uplands Dairy, makers of Pleasant Ridge Reserve.
After production, cheeses are brought back to Bleu Mont for aging. Construction of a vast underground maturing cave, built into the hillside adjacent to the house, was completed in 2008. Inside the cave, the temperature and humidy remain naturally constant and the cheeses are aged on cedar boards.
Willi's production of a traditional cloth-wrapped, English style cheddar was inspired by the chance to visit England under a scholarship from the University of Wisconsin's Center for Dairy Research. There he was able to learn from several cheddar producers - especially Montgomery's - and put some of their techniques into practice .
After production of his cloth-wrapped cheddar, and to give the cheeses a head start with the aging process, Willi spritzes them with a solution of spring water and old cheddar rinds.
Cheeses are matured for between one and two years before release. While the majority are sold locally and at the Madison Farmers' Market, Willi has recently started to release some of his cheddars for sale elsewhere in the United States.
The texture is smooth, dense and extremely rich. The interior paste is the color of very pale caramel-cream with no holes.
Flavors - especially for the two year cheddar - are incredibly complex and deep. Notes of wood, toast and nuts are present, together with a delicious underlying sweet caramel flavor and a long earthy finish.