MONROE, Wis.- Specialty cheesemaker Roth Käse marked its 15th anniversary last month with an open house featuring yodelers; a cheese, beer, wine tasting; and a tour of its newly expanded facilities. The plant project included expansion and improvements to the company's aging and curing facilities and to its brining system. Roth Käse also added a Culinary Education Centre.
"The Education Centre has been a part of our plan since the early days of Roth Käse," says Kirsten Jaeckle, dir. of marketing, "And it's part of our two-phase expansion which has finally concluded after three years of hard work.
"All this-in addition to the first phase build-out that included a new, more spacious make room where our copper vat is housed-helps us make better cheeses, which will always be our primary mission."
The Roth Käse story really goes all the way back to 1863 when Swiss cheesemaker Oswald Roth founded a cheese company specializing in producing and exporting Emmentaler.
Roth Käse USA was started in 1991 by the Roth descendents who used traditional European methods and technologies to make three kinds of specialty cheese. In 15 years the company has matured into one of the premier cheesemakers and distributors of American specialty and artisan cheese, with more than 100 employees working to produce and sell more than 50 varieties of cheese. It has captured more than 100 national and international awards, and its annual revenues are now more than $50 million.
Earlier this year Roth Käse entered into a strategic partnership with Emmi, the Swiss dairy leader. The deal involves Emmi assuming a minority interest in the Wisconsin company, and Roth Käse bolstering Emmi's distribution efforts in the U.S.
Mixing business with pleasureCelebrating a milestone anniversary along with the completion of a substantial growth project is only natural for the fast-growing company, said Roth Käse President Steve McKeon.
"The Education Centre and affinage facility had been under construction for over a year and we truly couldn't wait to open its doors to our friends and customers who have been with us these past 15 years," McKeon said. "The next 15 promise nothing less than more of the finest specialty cheeses in the world."
The two facilities were designed to complement one another, Jaeckle added.
"There are four windows (in the Education Centre) that look directly into our aging and curing facility, so it's like forget about hanging artwork on the wall, that would be redundant," she said.
"We will use it for our own product R&D and for tours and special events. A good deal of our business is in foodservice, so this gives us more capabilities for trying our cheese in the kitchen to make sure it will perform to our customers' expectations."
The festivities included media preview on Thursday Oct. 5, that featured a tour of a nearby farm, and a cheese museum, along with a beer and cheese tasting conducted by Huber Brewing Co.
"Dinner was prepared in the Culinary Education Centre, by Regi Hise, our corporate chef, and Chef Joseph Ciminera the host of Taste This TV," Jaeckle said. "They cooked for about 35 people including the food writers and some of our sales people."
Friday's ribbon cutting featured a plaque presentation from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and speeches from Roth Käse principals including McKeon and CEO and co-owner Fermo Jaeckle.