A Visit with the ‘Mad Scientist’ of Bleu Mont Dairy
On her blog Cheese and Champagne, Jill Lewis writes about her visit to Bleu Mont Dairy in Wisconsin, where she met the cheesemaker Wili Lehner, and saw the aging cave carved into the hillside:
No matter how blasé about cheese you may be, you have to admit that carving your own cheese cave out of the side of a hill is pretty bad-ass. It signifies not only a commitment to making cheese, but a dedication to making mind-blowing, truly artisanal cheese. A second-generation cheesemaker, Lehner credits his teenage trip to his father’s native Switzerland as the “a-ha” moment that led him to devote his life to cheese.
You may think that someone who builds his own cave leads a solitary, caveman-like existence, but Lehner’s cheese exemplifies the cooperative spirit shared among Wisconsin cheesemakers. He buys milk from his pal Andy Hatch’s pasture-grazed cows at Uplands and rents space at Cedar Grove Cheese Factory (or, depending on availability, another local cheesemaker’s facility) to craft his cheddars, goudas, havartis and Alpine-style cheeses from the spring through the fall.