Named after the land formation on which our farm sits, Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made in the tradition of Alpine cheeses like Gruyere and Beaufort. Like the Alpage versions of these cheeses, we only make Pleasant Ridge Reserve from May through October when our cows are eating fresh pasture. This grass-fed, raw milk produces flavors in the cheese that can't be replicated by "ordinary" milk.
In mid-summer, when the cows are at the peak of their production, a batch of cheese may yield up to 78, 10-lb wheels a day. Because we're very particular about using milk from only the best pasture conditions, the weather largely determines how many batches we can make in a year. When the pasture conditions aren't ideal, we sell the milk. Some years we're able to make more cheese than other years. This may seem like a luxury, but using only the ideal milk is the most important way we ensure the quality of our cheese.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve is the most-awarded cheese in American history, having won Best of Show in the American Cheese Society's annual competition three times (2001, 2005 and 2010), and having also won the US Cheese Championships in 2003. It is the only cheese to have won Best of Show three times, and the only cheese to have ever won both of the major, national cheese competitions.
We age all of our cheese in ripening rooms built into the creamery. Here, the cheeses are washed several times a week in a brine solution, which encourages the development of certain bacteria on the cheese rinds. These bacteria, along with the microflora indigenous to our raw milk, develop flavors in the cheese over time. As the cheeses age, their flavors become more complex and concentrated.
Each batch develops its flavors at a different pace, and an important part of our work in the ripening rooms is to taste each batch again and again to determine when they are ready to sell. We age a small percentage the cheese produced for over a year, and these "Extra Aged" batches of Pleasant Ridge Reserve are available only in the fall and early winter.
If you would like to know more about our Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Rush Creek Reserve, here are some tips for storage and usage.