Photo courtesy of Murray’s Cheese
The folks at Wisconsin-based Blakesville Dairy Farm have had a cheesemaking dream for years but were waiting for the right time and resources to make it work. Ironically, it didn’t all come to fruition until March 2020—right at the start of the pandemic. But luckily, head cheesemaker Veronica Pedraza says that COVID-19 hasn’t impacted the new business as much as she expected. “I was certainly nervous that I had just built a four-million-dollar creamery, and no one was going to want to buy cheese,” she says. “Especially because our business plan was built around soft-ripened cheese—which took a huge hit in March. But lots of people in the industry have rallied around us. It feels really good to have a dream that people want to succeed as much as you do.”
One of Blakesville’s two debut wheels, Afterglow, is a gorgeous goat’s milk cheese washed in New Glarus Belgian Red, an ale made from local cherries. “I wanted the cheese to reflect its home, and people definitely know Wisconsin for New Glarus beer,” Pedraza says. The title of the cheese itself—and its slightly orange hue—also reflect its geographical roots. “The name Afterglow is the original name of our dairy farm, which sits right on Lake Michigan, and an ‘afterglow’ is the ‘light or radiance remaining in the sky after the sun has set,’” Pedraza explains. “It’s usually pinkish-red and reminds me of the cheese rind.”
Pedraza describes Afterglow’s flavor as “clean—not goaty,” and fruit-forward, with an especially rich, creamy paste beneath the rind that comes from hand-ladling the curd. She recommends enjoying the wheel at room temperature with a crusty baguette, fresh fruit, and a lighter-bodied red wine like Beaujolais or Zweigelt.