Center for Dairy Research logo

The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® Program was established as an advanced education program for experienced cheesemakers through joint sponsorship with the Center for Dairy Research, UW-Extension, and the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. In order to be accepted into the program, you must currently be making cheese in a Wisconsin plant and hold a Wisconsin cheesemaker’s license for a minimum of 10 years. Each Master candidate must participate in the program’s quality assurance component of plant and product inspection. This program, the only one in the U.S., enhances the quality image of what is already the nation’s premier cheesemaking state and the unparalleled standards of Wisconsin cheesemaking.

The purpose of the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® Program is three-fold:

1. Provide a formal sequence of courses that leads to the title of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker.

2. Add value to cheese because it was made by a "Master Cheesemaker," like those of European tradition.

3. Equip Wisconsin cheesemakers with the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the marketplace both nationally and internationally.

Wood County

Kurt Hansen

Nasonville Dairy,
Marshfield WI

Ken Heiman

Nasonville Dairy,
Marshfield WI

Tom Torkelson

Nasonville Dairy,
Marshfield WI

John Moran

Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese Company,
Rudolph WI

Alan Greunke

Maple Grove Cheese,
Milladore WI

Brian Jackson

Nasonville Dairy,
Marshfield WI

Scott Navarre

Foremost Farms USA,
Marshfield WI
Requirements to become a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker

Must be an active licensed Wisconsin cheesemaker for at least 10 consecutive years before starting the program.

Master Cheesemaker Course Requirements

Expectations for Applicant

Before applying to the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program, Master applicants must be making cheese in a Wisconsin cheese plant, shall have had their Wisconsin cheesemakers license for a minimum of 10 years, shall have been producing the cheese they want to get certified in for at least 5 years and have taken an advanced cheesemaking and one elective short course specified by the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Board. Applicants also must have day to day involvement in the cheesemaking process and a fundamental knowledge of the entire cheesemaking production process detailed below. The involvement and knowledge requirements of each applicant will be assessed during the interview process.

Applicants shall have a working knowledge of the entire cheesemaking process (including milk receiving and processing) but must be involved in the day to day cheesemaking activities below.

  • Vat operations
  • Curd handling- salting, pressing, forming etc.
  • Product aging/ripening
  • Product quality management/troubleshooting
  • Finished product evaluation and grading

Applicants shall have an elevated working knowledge of the following areas of dairy and cheese manufacturing for the cheese they are seeking certification in.

Food Safety
~ Fundamental understanding of your Food Safety Plan and Programs

~ Understanding of Wisconsin and Federal regulations surrounding milk, cheese production and cheese Standards of Identity

Milk Quality
~ Milk composition and microbiology
~ Raw milk quality tests and factors that effect raw milk quality
~ General understanding of indicators of poor-quality milk and its effects on cheese

Milk Processing
~ Pasteurization
~ Standardization

Cheesemaking Ingredients
~ Starter Cultures
~ Coagulants
~ Factors effecting starter and coagulant performance

Cheese Manufacturing
~ Cheesemaking procedures and processes
~ Cheesemaking parameters and effects on cheese composition

Cleaning and Sanitation
~ General knowledge of procedures and chemical use
~ Common cleaning issues in dairy plants

Cheese Evaluation, Grading and Defects
~ General organoleptic attributes
~ Typical defects and related causes

How long does it take to complete the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program?

It takes 2 years and 8 months from the time cheesemakers are accepted into the Program until they graduate.

When is the application for the Program due?
How will I know how many classes I need to take to complete the program?

After being accepted into the Program each cheesemaker will receive regular updates on course work completed and any additional course work needed to finish the Program.

Master’s Mark

The Master’s Mark is an exclusive benefit for Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers. The Master’s Mark® may be used for marketing and promotional purposes through a licensing agreement with the DFW. To use the mark, the certified Master Cheesemaker must supervise cheesemaking in a Wisconsin plant that continues to participate in the quality assurance program.

This mark may only be used in conjunction with products for which the Master Cheesemaker is certified. A designated committee will evaluate these products on an annual basis.

The Master’s Mark® is a trademark of the DFW and may be used in connection with registered brands owned by the applicant. Other uses will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by DFW.

Master Cheesemaker 25th Anniversary

Become a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker

Each year cheesemakers must apply to the program by May 15th. Before applying for the program cheesemakers must take the Advanced Cheese Technology short course and another course required to complete the program.

Download Master Application | Download Additional Cheese Application

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2022

BR | Ken Kane, Shawn Sadler, Gerard Knaus

FR | Matt Henze, Charles Henn, Jamie Fahrney

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2021

BR | Kirk Hansen, Steve Bechel
FR | Larry Harris, Brian Jackson

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2020

BR | Tim Pehl, Bruce Workman, Pam Hodgson
FR | Steve Stettler, Noah Deitelhoff

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2019

Mike Matucheski, Randy Pitman, Jonathan Stender, Bill Hanson, Gerard Knaus, Dan Szczepanski

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2018

BR | Ron Bechtolt, Dave Newman, Matt Erdley, Jeff LeBeau
FR | Larry Harris, Matt Henze, Chris Roelli

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2017

BR | Josh Krause, Steve Bierhals, Ryan Lagrander, Scott Barker
FR | Tom Dahmen, Rob Richter, Tom Torkelson

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2016

BR | Darrell Manning, Jeff Allen, Bill Hanson, Scott Navarre, Brian Jackson
FR | Gerard Knaus, Dale Schmidt, Jon Metzig, Bob Koenig, Tom Jenny

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2015

BR | Duane Petersen, Chris Roelli, Adam Buholzer
FR | Mike Matucheski, Steve Stettler, Ken Heiman

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2014

BR | Patrick Doell, Brian Renard, Paul Reigle, Bruce Workman
FR | Mark Gustafson, Michael Brennenstuhl, Christopher Renard

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2013

BR | Gary Grossen, Randy Krahenbuhl, Steve Hurd, Brian Jackson
FR | Dan Omundson, Pam Hodgson, Alan Greunke

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2012

Gerard Knaus, Scott Erickson, Tom Jenny

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2011

Steve Stettler, Tim Pehl, Mike Matucheski, Bruce Workman

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2010

BR | Jim Johnson, Randy Pitman, Mark Frederixon, Ken Heiman, Mark Gustafson
FR | Paul Reigle, Steve Hurd, Brian Jackson, Bruce Willis (not picuted)

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2009

Steve Tollers, Sid Cook, Gary Grossen, Ken Heiman

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2008

Tom Torkelson, Bruce Workman

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2007

BR | Terry Lensmire, Paul Reigle
FR | David Lindgren, Jerome Zibrowski

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2006

BR | Jim Demeter, Steve Stettler, Dave Buholzer
FR | Bruce Willis, Carie Wagner, Randy LaGrander

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2005

BR | John Moran, Gregg Palubicki, Gianni Toffolon, Steven Tollers
FR | Bruce Workman, Walt Brandli (deceased), Jeff Mattes

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2004

Richard Glick (deceased)

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2003

BR | Robert Biddle, Jake Niffenegger, Roger Krohn, Randy LaGrander
FR | James Meives, Myron Olson, Robert Wills

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2002

BR | Jamie Fahrney, Walt Brandli (deceased), Bruce Workman, Kerry Henning, Ken DeMaa, Gary Grossen
FR | Sid Cook, Kurt Heitmann, Allan Scott

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2001

Scott Erickson, Dave Metzig, Carie Wagner, Dave Lindgren, Duane Petersen

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2000

Vern Kind, Dan Stearns, Richard Wold, Jacob Niffenegger, Myron Olson, Tom Blauert, Jeff Mattes, Jeff Wideman

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 1999

Ron Buholzer, Steve Buholzer, Dan Meister, Steve Stettler, Larry Steckbauer, Kerry Henning, Bruce Workman, Kurt Heitmann

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 1998

Ron Sullivan, Ken Nett, Joe Widmer, Scott Erickson

Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 1997

Terry Lensmire, Randy Krahenbuhl, Tom Jenny

Master Cheesemaker Contact