World Class Cheeses from Wisconsin
Sartori’s vision: To put great cheese on every plate.
“We have the highest aspirations, not just for ourselves, but for all great cheese. In this spirit, we strive to remain authentic and inspire our lifelong customers to return again and again.”
In this writer’s opinion, if you love cheese, or even if you simply enjoy cheese, the flavors of Sartori cheeses are phenomenal. Some say the secret is the same starter culture that’s been used since 1939. Whatever it is—it’s “fromagic!”
After Paolo Sartori, a 17 year-old young man left Italy alone to come to the United States on the ship Finlandia, he worked for many years making cheese for other producers in Wisconsin. In 1939, with business partner Louis Rossini, they began making heritage Italian cheeses for food service and manufacturer ingredients under the name of S&R Cheese Corp. in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Later Paolo joined Leonard Gentine to form Sargento, but eventually sold his interest in Sargento and continued to produce cheese under the S & R label.
Within the first year of establishing the business, Paolo submitted his first patent for an improved cheese curd machine that would increase the production speed and volume of cheese curds over older models. Later he was awarded a patent on a curd mixing and kneading machine. A philanthropic as well as caring man, in 1957 he would eventually donate the money needed to build a home to care for the elderly in his hometown of Valdastico, Italy.
After handing over the reins to his son Joe, Joe ran the company for many years and is credited with building further upon the success of his father’s values and ideas. In 1986, Paolo’s grandson, Jim Sartori, was handed the reins and he has continued the tradition of making outstanding cheeses and the commitment to treating all of their team members (employees) as they would their own family. (In 2011, Jim renamed the company Sartori Company.) Now that a fourth generation of Sartoris is entering the company, this legacy will continue to unfold.
The six core values expressed at Sartori
- We are a family of people who care about each other and work for a common cause.
- Our commitment is demonstrated every day through hard work, dedication and a strong investment in continuous improvement.
- From the day our founder, Paolo Sartori, made his first vat of cheese in 1939, everything we’ve done—everything we are—is rooted in tradition, quality and authenticity.
- We thrive on ingenuity, welcoming great ideas that are cutting edge and efficient from all of our Team Members.
- “Always do the right thing.” We practice integrity in all things through honesty, reliability and accountability.
- Some might call it a Midwestern trait, but at our very core, humility at Sartori goes without saying. We quietly and firmly believe that our achievements should speak for themselves.
In order to hire and retain outstanding talent, Sartori team members enjoy a long list of benefits, including health and life insurance, 401k, tuition reimbursement, short and long-term disability insurance, profit-sharing, a wellness program and more.
At Sartori, their gifted cheesemakers create artisan cheeses with milk produced and delivered daily by small family farms, not more than 50 miles away from the Sartori facilities. All of their cheeses are rBST-free. Some of their farmer patrons have been milking for Sartori for multiple generations. Their two other cheese-making locations, one in Antigo, Wisconsin, and in Blackfoot, Idaho, also work closely with their farmer patrons in the same way. The Idaho location was a significant addition to improve the overall production and distribution of their cheeses for the western United States. Cheeses made in Idaho follow the same recipes and practices as those made in Wisconsin and the staff at both the Antigo and Blackfoot locations shares the same rich selection of benefits.
Winning local, national and international awards every year since introducing their retail line of artisan cheeses in 2007, this relatively new extension of the company has not only created a new identity for them, but has also increased their ability to provide more jobs across the country.
Now, about those cheeses—the first time I tasted their cheeses, I was blown away by the Sarvecchio Parmesan, an American version of the classic, which easily rivals anything from the Reggiano region of Italy. Whether it’s grated or served alone, this nutty cheese delivers a flavorful and smooth finish without being too salty.
The MontAmore is a treasure to behold. Heidi Grotelueschen, a Willy Street Co-op staff member reports that her in-laws in Escanaba, Indiana, have warned her that she may as well not show up if she’s not bringing with her this wonderful cheese. It’s just that good. Rich, caramel tones create a smooth, satisfying finish. This cheese is excellent all on its own, but be careful—it’s altogether too easy to be tempted to keep this luscious cheese for yourself, or so I’ve heard.
Key to the flavor and success of their cheeses are their award-winning Master Cheesemakers. Developing new cheeses is an art for them, and they’re given plenty of freedom to explore new varieties. Mike Matachuski describes making the cheese as a sort of alchemy that is affected by everything around it—the air, the water, and the weather.
While Sartori is a very large company, they’re doing their best to remain focused on what’s most important—the people who make the cheese, the families involved in producing the milk and the people who enjoy the end product.
More varieties from Sartori include:
- BellaVitano® Gold
- Balsamic BellaVitano®
- Black Pepper BellaVitano®
- Merlot BellaVitano®
- Raspberry BellaVitano®
- Espresso BellaVitano®
- Dolcina® Gorgonzola
- Extra-Aged Asiago
- Basil & Olive Oil Asiago
- Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago
- Salsa Asiago
- Extra-Aged Fontina
- Mediterranean Fontina
- Tuscan Blend
- Sicilian Blend
- Extra Aged Goat Cheese
- Cognac BellaVitano®
- Pastorale Blend®
- Classic Parmesan
- Classic Fontina
- Classic Asiago
- Classic Romano
For much more information, as well as videos about nearly every aspect of their operation, see their website at sartoricheese.com.