The state of Wisconsin is synonymous with The Green Bay Packers, The Milwaukee Brewers, beer , deer hunting and dairy. Of course what is a great product of dairy? Cheese! We have many fantastic local dairy farms and cheese makers. We even have cheese tours. You can see an amazing example of a cheese tour at travelwisconsin.com. Travel to the sleepy little town of Chilton, Wisconsin and you’ll find the cheese store, warehouse and office of Vern’s Cheese.
March 1, 1964 was the beginning of a 50 year long journey for Vern and Edith Knoespel. Vern’s Cheese started as a wholesale business out of their rented home with one truck and rented cooler space. In just three short years, they were able to purchase a small warehouse in rural Chilton. By 1984 they bought the land where their current store now sits in Chilton and built a combined warehouse and office space and in 1992 they added a production/cutting room. On August 9th 2010 they held a ground breaking ceremony for their new 6,343 square foot addition which would add larger office space and a larger retail store which was completed in November 2010. In this larger space Vern’s has been able to offer a large variety of not only their own brand of cheese but also other local cheeses like Sartori Cheese, Maple Leaf Cheese, and Widmer’s Cheese Cellars. However, Vern’s wasn’t going to just limit themselves to cheese. They’ve made sure their retail space was filled with something for everyone. From cute knick knacks, gift items, glass bottled milk, candy, butter, imported cheese, cheese curds, string cheese, specialty foods, meat products, and ice cream. They also have other local branded products like Nueske, Mad Dog and Merrill, Rural Route Popcorn, Parallel 44, Mudd Creek LLC, and Wisconsin Natural Acres Honey. Vern’s has not only grown their business in acreage but also in family members. Out of the 40 employees four of Vern and Edith’s children work at Vern’s Cheese along with two son in laws and 5 grand children. With this growth we are sure to see Vern’s Cheese continue to be ran by family members for many more generations.
Vern’s Cheese distributes to many different grocery stores, restaurants, specialty shops, and convenience stores throughout three quarters of Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Their dedication to supporting locally owned, raised and/or farmed products is not lost on other locally owned businesses. Treasury Restaurant is a converted 1864 First National Bank in Ripon, WI. They take pride in using local farmers and purveyors products like Vern’s Cheese and proudly list them on their menu.
A lot of people have their favorite Vern’s product but some people come across Vern’s strictly by accident and will post fave reviews about their experience. On May 05, 2014 highstreetbeat.net posted “BP Pit Stop has a good range of Wisconsin cheese, but the star of them all is Vern’s Super Sharp Colored Cheddar. Ranging in age from 1-9 years, the 9-year is full of mouth-meltingly addictive crystals.”* On 05/2012 jeffeatschicago.com reviewed Phil’s Last Stand in Chicago. They ordered a little bit of everything but had to say this about their order of cheese fries. “They had the option for shoe string fries, but I significantly preferred the regular cut. The nice touch to all of this was the use of Vern’s Cheese. It was thick, sharp and went excellently with the fries and the salami sandwich.”* Even someone not from Wisconsin, traveled here to see if everything he had heard about cheese curds was true. He chose Vern’s Golden Nugget Curds to test his theory that cheese curds did not taste better if they were from Wisconsin and if they did indeed squeak more. He wrote “The texture of satisfyingly soft but chewy, and although I could not tell if the famous Wisconsin curd squeak was there I had a hard time not eating these like popcorn.” * Thinking about a cheese and wine tour? Well a Wisconsin resident thefittraveler.com did a beer and cheese tour and had this to say about her beer and cheese pairing “Pairing the Summer Czech Style Pils and Vern’s 10 Year Cheddar was also an interesting combination; the crisp, clean beer contrasted nicely with the sharp, tangy and crumbly cheddar.”* Its hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy Vern’s cheese, their retail store or their friendly staff. During our time there researching this story Vern and Edith’s daughter Kelly kindly took time out of her day to speak with us and show us around their retail space. We highly recommend taking a trip to Vern’s Cheese. Stop in with your kids, get a scoop of ice cream , sit on the patio set outside under the birch trees among the flowers and enjoy the city of Chilton.
VISIT VERN’S CHEESE AT THEIR STORE IN CHILTON LOCATED AT
312 W MAIN ST – 920-849-7717 OR ONLINE AT VERNSCHEESE.COM
*Businesses and websites referenced
- Nueskes – Hours: Mon – Thurs 8 am-530 pm / Friday 8 am-9 pm / Sat 8 am-4 pm / Sun Closed Nueskes.com / Company Store / 1390 E Grand Ave / Wittenberg, WI 54499 / 1-800-392-2266 Additional Wittenberg Locations – 2 Shell Stations / Wittenberg Shell Stations off 29 Heart of Wittenberg / Wilderness Crossing Truck Stop Corner of Hwy 29 and 45 Downtown Wittenberg open 24/7
- Mudd Creek LLC – Order online at www.muddcreekllc.com / phone 920-419-0412 /
- Parallel 44 – Hours: Apr 1 – Dec 31 Mon – Sat 10 am – 5 pm Sun 12 pm – 5 pm / Jan 1 – Mar 31 Mon, Fri, Sa 10 am – 5 pm Sun 12 pm – 5 pm Closed Tues, Wed, Thurs Parallel44.com / N2185 Sleepy Hollow RD / Kewaunee, WI 54216 (winery & vineyard) / 888-932-0044 / 920-388-4400
- Rural Route 1 Popcorn Hours: Mon – Sat 830 am – 630 pm / Sun 10 am – 5 pm RuralRoute1.com / 101 Hwy 18 / Monlfort, WI 53569 / 1-877-POP-4FUN
- Mad Dog and Merrill Opensky.com/mad-dog-merrill
- Wisconsin Natural Acres Honey / wnacres.com / 920-849-9784 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Treasury Restaurant Hours: Tues – Sat 5 pm – 10 pm Closed Sun & Mon Serving food 5 pm – 10 pm Ripontreasury.com / 114 Watson / On the square in downtown Ripon, WI / 920-748-2677