When the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative was formed in the 1990s, sheep’s milk cheesemaking in America was a young and struggling industry in which small startups often fizzled out. When the cheese plant Montchevre in WI decided to start using sheep's milk, they decided to do it only if they could work with a single source that handled all of the licensing, inspections, inventory and payment. So local sheep farmers responded by forming the WSDC to organize sheep dairying into a more reliable, standardized profession. When the co-op ended up with a surplus of milk, members decided to start making their own cheese.
Milk is sourced from mostly East Friesian and Laucane Breed ewes of member farmers. During spring and summer, the sheep graze freely on pasture and are fed a limited amount of natural grain while being milked.
Somerset is a Double Gloucester English style cheddar made with sheep’s milk and aged for 12 months. Rapped in shiny red wax, the cheese has a soft texture and a mild, earthy flavor. Floral, nutty and grassy flavors intersect with a hint of toast and butter.
Pair it with a Pinot Noir or a Champagne.