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WE BELIEVE IN CHEESE.

It guides everything we do. We believe in its power to foster good will among all, and we strive to prove it every day in our relationships with our customers, partners, team members, and community. Our mission is simple…build a new type of cheese company bonded by the brotherhood of cheese.

MEET THE CHEESE BROTHERS

Hi there! We're Eric Ludy and Gene Graf, co-founders of Cheese Brothers. We're two guys from Wisconsin with a passion for great cheese. You could say it's in our blood. Eric's great grandfather, a Swiss cheesemaker named Fred Ludy, started the families' first cheese factory in Wisconsin in 1919. Gene learned the trade from Tom Ludy, Eric's dad. We're not brothers by birth, but ever since we launched our company in 2015, we've been bonded by the brotherhood of cheese. 

We thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for all of your support! Onward and forward to another hundred years!

Eric Ludy and Gene Graf

OUR CHEESE:
FAMILY TRADITION MEETS INNOVATION

Cheese Brothers Cheese

WE KEEP IT SIMPLE: MILK, SALT, NATURAL CULTURES

None of our products are ever processed or artificial in any way. Just good, old fashioned Wisconsin cheese. Seasonings are always natural and simple, never artificial.

Cheese Brothers Family

WE HONOR OUR FAMILY TRADITIONS

Our cheese is made the same way since Eric’s Great Grandpa Fred came here from Switzerland in 1919 (though with a bit more fancy equipment). The milk comes in, cheese makers add the cultures, curd is formed, any seasonings are added, cheese is pressed into blocks and allowed to cure, usually for several months (or sometimes years for aged varieties). The cheese is then cut and wrapped, labeled, and shipped to your door.

Artisan cheese making

DETAILS MATTER

A lot of care and attention goes into our cheeses which are made by small Wisconsin cheese producers with rBST free milk from family farms.

The farmers who provide the milk for our cheeses feel they have an ethical and moral obligation to be attentive to all aspects of their cows' health and well-being. They follow strict standards in how the cows are housed and treated.

Cheese Brothers Rhapsody Cheese

WE’RE ALWAYS INNOVATING

We’re constantly innovating, and we’ve created some of our own techniques to make delicious and exciting cheeses.

Keep it cool - We cold-smoke our cheeses, low and slow, with hardwood. This infuses the cheese with rich flavor and preserves the texture. Most other brands smoke their cheeses with heat or worse, artificial liquid smoke...yuck! 

Flavor fanatics - We’re constantly searching for interesting flavors that pair well with cheese, like Honey Sriracha or Mango Habanero.

Perfect blends - We work with cheesemakers to combine different techniques. The result: Really amazing unique cheeses like Rhapsody, a cross between Cheddar and Parmesan, or Fratello which blends Asiago and Parmesan but is softer and more meltable.

OUR VALUES:
CULTURES AREN’T JUST FOR MAKING CHEESE

Cheese Brothers Tent

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

Our mission from the start has been to build a new type of cheese company: one that uses Farmer's Markets and festivals to share cheese and connect with people directly. We’ve since moved entirely online, but have never lost our commitment to build meaningful relationships with our customers

Hollis Van Akkeren - Customer Service

PERSONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE

We hate robotic, impersonal customer service, so we aim to be its antithesis.  We are here for any question you have and we love nothing more than a happy, satisfied customer! We never outsource customer service or take shortcuts here.

Cheese Brothers Team

SMALL TEAM. BIG HEARTS.

We value our relationships with each other just as much as our relationships with our customers. We think of our team members as our family, and all opportunities with us provide a living wage.

Cheese Brothers Tent

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

We pay it forward regularly by donating cheese and a portion of our proceeds to a variety of non-profit organizations. Complementary items in our gift boxes (jams, mustards, etc.) are always Wisconsin made by small businesses and artisans like us. Even the crackers!

OUR TEAM:
SHARING THE LOVE OF WISCONSIN CHEESE

Gene Graf - Co-Founder

GENE GRAF - CO-FOUNDER

What is his role? Oversees cheese making, cold smoking and packaging

Favorite Cheese: 3 Amigos Spicy Gouda

Born in a working class suburb of Chicago, Gene moved to northern Wisconsin as a teenager and gradually came to love its culture of fishing, cheese, and Packers fandom. After years as a car salesman, Gene established a cheese packaging business and smokehouse near an old auto body shop in Barron. After a rocky start, the business prospered and formed the seed from which Cheese Brothers was born.

Eric Ludy - Co-Founder

ERIC LUDY - CO-FOUNDER

What is his role? Oversees sales, marketing, and e-commerce

Favorite Cheese:Parmesan

Eric never envisioned following in his family's footsteps in the cheese industry. He began his career as a news reporter, moving from place to place and even settling in South America for several years. In 2012 he came home with hopes to establish roots in one place for a change, and over drinks with his friend Gene came up with the idea for Cheese Brothers. He dove in and never looked back.

Hollis Van Akkeren - Customer Service

HOLLIS VAN AKKEREN - CUSTOMER SERVICE

Favorite Cheese: 8-Year-Aged Cheddar

Like Gene, Hollis is a transplant from Chicago, moving to the Upper Midwest in 2015 and soon taking a job as a retail employee at the former Cheese Brothers store in the Mall of America. Customers appreciated Hollis’ sunny outlook and friendly demeanor. In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Hollis moved to our Barron location to take on a new role: serving our thousands of new ecommerce customers virtually. Chances are, if you’re talking to us online, you’re talking to Hollis!

Jolene Nitchey-Keppen - Fulfillment Manager

JOLENE NITCHEY-KEPPEN - FULFILLMENT MANAGER

Favorite Cheese: 8-Year-Aged Cheddar

Jolene is a recent arrival to the Cheese Brothers team, but a long time member of our family. From her teenage years onward, she has been a caregiver for Eric’s sister Kelly, a beautiful soul who lives with cerebral palsy. Jolene left her full time job as an educator this year to join the Cheese Brothers team. Her job is to make sure your order gets to your doorstep in tip-top shape, and she is very good at it!

A SPECIAL NOTE FROM OUR CO-FOUNDER

My great-grandpa Fred Ludy came to America from Switzerland in 1919. He was 24 years old, a cheesemaker, during the height of another pandemic, the Spanish Flu that shut down normal life for millions around the world.

It’s now over one hundred years later. Four generations of my family have worked in the Wisconsin cheese business, through challenging times and good. I think of Fred now, what it must have been like. The many unknowns of entering a new country in a turbulent time. The fear he must have felt, but also the hopeful energy of a new beginning.

It's 2021, another pandemic has just swept the world, and many of us feel real uncertainty about the future. Our own business has been totally transformed by the events of the last year. Nobody seems to know what is coming. But one thing is for certain: the connections we have built with our customers and the spirit of giving we have witnessed is the driver that will carry us all forward.

We’re embarking on a new adventure, taking our business entirely online since the onset of the pandemic, shipping a taste of Wisconsin to new friends throughout the country. It is a new world, a bit scary and uncertain, but also an exciting one.

On behalf of the whole Cheese Brothers family, we would like to thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for your support.

Onward and forward to another hundred years!

OUR ROOTS:
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF CHEESE MAKING TRADITION

Fritz Ludy

1919

Fred “Fritz” and Rosa Ludy move to Barron, Wisconsin from a village near Bern, Switzerland. At 24, Fritz is already a skilled cheesemaker. He opens one of the area’s first cheese factories.

Old Factory

1950'S

Fritz’s health fails and his youngest son John takes over the business. Over 30 years, John modernizes the cheese plant and becomes one of the largest producers of hard Italian-style cheeses in the country.

Cheese Production

2001

John’s son Tom opens a new cheese factory in nearby Turtle Lake, WI. Eric  works there while in high school. Gene comes on to oversee the packaging line.

Gene at Barron County Cheese

2005

Gene opens Barron County Cheese, which cuts, smokes and packages cheese from small producers in the area and ships it to retail stores nationwide. Eric moves out of the area.

Cheese Brothers Tent

2013

Eric comes home for a family visit and reconnects with Gene. They come up with the idea of Cheese Brothers.

Cheese Brothers Store Front

2015

After success at several street fairs, Eric and Gene open a store at the Mall of America. After 3 years, they decided to close the store and create the website so previous customers can get cheese by mail.

Cheese Brothers Tent

2017

Eric continues to sell products at  fairs and festivals with success traveling to 40 cities a year. Doesn’t see his family much!

Eric Packing Boxes

2020

COVID19 happens and street fairs shut down overnight. The business shifts entirely to the website. Eric moves the operation to his parents’ garage and overwhelms the post office. The company moved to a new facility in Barron, WI and hired a staff who worked insane hours to ship all the holiday orders.