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Redhead Creamery

Farmstead, Artisan Cheese – Made in Minnesota

Alise Sjostrom has always loved cheese. Those who knew her as a fiery-haired child often received impassioned sermons on the virtues of cheesemaking. Whereas many of her peers likely took their 4-H club tour of Wisconsin's dairies as an opportunity to lolligag, Alise paid more attention during it than a Soviet spy who had infiltrated the Pentagon.

So great a love for cheese was well-placed in Alise. Her father Jerry and mother Linda had founded Jer-Lindy Farms in Brooten, Minnesota in 1983, and they worked their fingers to their bones to keep it running throughout eras which weren't at all friendly to small dairy farmers. Their fierce Midwestern determination and methodical animal husbandry gradually turned the Jennissens' small farm and 32 head of cattle into a 240-acre Brown Swiss and Holstein haven.

Thus blessed from birth with a base of operation, Alise proceeded to become a cheesemaker in full. She studied food and marketing at the University of Minnesota and continued on to work for Grafton Village Cheese Company in Vermont – a state Mystery Science Theater 3000 once dubbed "the other, smaller Wisconsin." And although Alise must surely appreciate many of her husband Lucas's other qualities, his work for Holstein Association USA could not have counted against him during their courtship.

Alise and Lucas returned to Brooten in 2012, eager to found their creamery. It was a Herculean task. Permit issues, fickle subcontractors, the immense difficulty of constructing a 40-foot underground milk pipeline, subpar inaugural batches and the explosion of not one but two cheese vats caused Alise to doubt whether cheesemaking was meant to be. But thanks to her parents' unceasing support, the kindness of strangers to the tune of $41,000 raised via Kickstarter, and her own fierce Midwestern determination, Alise would finally realize her dream. All she had left to do was name it.

"My parents are both brunettes," said Alise. "Somehow they created four redheaded daughters. Growing up I always kind of resented being different, but when my husband suggested 'Redhead Creamery' I knew right away that just had to be the name. And it's worked out well. People are pretty often able to guess which creamery I own as soon as I tell them I make cheese.

"Most aspiring cheesemakers are nowhere near as lucky as I am, because I was born on Jer-Lindy Farms. My parents had already turned their farm into a paradise for milk cows by the time I was ready to start – and happy cows, as I'm sure you know, give the highest-quality milk. Our 200 cows stay in temperature-controlled housing whenever it's cold and blustery outside, and they get to lie on soft sand whenever the mood strikes them. They even have their own nutritionist who helps keep them healthy and their milk high in fat and protein.

"We named our first cheese Lucky Linda after my mom. It's a traditional clothbound cheddar, aged in the cheese caves beneath our farm's cheese shop for a minimum of six months. That gives Lucky Linda a luxurious smoothness and savory flavor which are unlike anything you've ever experienced. After that came Little Lucy – not just our daughter, but also the brie we named after her. She's older now, so she insists on calling it just 'Lucy Brie.'

"We try to incorporate other local artisans' products in our cheeses as often as we're able. Our North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster is made with Panther Distillery's own Minnesota 14, and our Tipsy Tilsiter is washed with Milk & Honey Ciders' finest. Once in a while we even have a happy little accident, as our heavenly St. Anthony cheese got its start as a glitched batch of Lucky Linda.

"We also make cheese curds, because this is Minnesota.

"Our cheese is currently available at many Minnesotan grocery stores, specialty cheese and meat shops throughout the Midwest, and online through our website. But if you want to enjoy Redhead Creamery at its very best, then you've got to come visit our shop just north of Brooten. We offer creamery tours at 12:30pm every Friday and Saturday, so you can see the milking, the cheesemaking, and all of our cute little calves in person. After a generous tasting session, you'll be able to pick out all of your new favorites in our on-site cheese shop!

"My husband and I consider it a great privilege to continue my parents' life's work. We're hoping our own kids will follow in our footsteps one day. I don't think that will take any pushing. Dairy farming is in our blood."

To learn more about Redhead Creamery's cheese, shop, tours, tasting room, special events and availability for private parties, please And remember: No true Minnesotan's summer plans are complete until they include a visit to at least one scenic Minnesotan cheesery.

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other milk.

– Ogden Nash

  • Alise Sjostrom