The Renard’s and Cloverleaf Connection

You might have noticed that the name Cloverleaf is pretty common at Renard’s Artisan Cheese. We’ve got Cloverleaf oils and balsamic vinegars, our homemade fudge is branded as Cloverleaf, and don’t forget our Cloverleaf Reserve cheese (a delectable blend of cheddar and gruyere). Our own Melt Bistro even serves a delicious Cloverleaf Club sandwich (yum!). Have you ever wondered why we’re so fond of the name? The answer is because it’s a nod to our past. Keep reading on to learn some fun facts about this connection.

If you’ve ever been to our Sturgeon Bay store, you might have noticed the white building right next door to the east. Long ago that building used to be Cloverleaf Cheese Factory. It was named after the road that runs just east of it, Cloverleaf Road. Before modern technology came along, it was common to refer to a business by its location.  You’ll notice that our factory, Rosewood Dairy, is located along County S and (drum roll, please)… Rosewood Road!

In 1966 Gary Renard bought Cloverleaf Cheese Factory. Gary was the son of our founder Howard Renard, who had purchased Rosewood Dairy in 1961. Gary had quite the work ethic. He purchased the cheese factory 3 weeks prior to his high school graduation! Gary ran Cloverleaf Dairy (what is now the Sturgeon Bay location) while Howard ran Rosewood Dairy (what is now the Algoma location). At that time, neither location included a retail store.

The first Renard’s Cheese retail store opened to customers in 1975. It was located inside of Cloverleaf Dairy, that white building next to our current store. The door on the far side of the building was the store entrance, and the whole store was probably less than 1000 square feet. After customers made their selections, each block of cheese was cut to size. Fresh cheese curds were scooped out of the bin so customers could indulge themselves right away. Sometimes our customers still talk about memories of “the old store.” That building is now used as our Production facility, where our handcrafted cheeses are cut to size and sealed, ready to be shipped and sold around the globe.

When Chris and Ann Renard took full ownership of the company in 2012, they built a brand new, larger retail building that also included corporate offices, shipping/receiving, and a deli (now called Melt Bistro). If you’ve visited us in the last 10 years, you’ve seen the tremendous growth. While we’re excited to see what the future brings, the Cloverleaf name tips our hat to our incredible beginnings!

Talking About Door County (and Renard’s Artisan Cheese!)

Door County is an enchanting destination, capturing the hearts of visitors from around the world. But did you know that Destination Door County is the organization responsible for promoting our area and all that it offers? In collaboration with Geiger & Associates Public Relations, small groups of journalists are brought together from around the U.S. throughout the year. They’re accompanied on a variety of inspiring itineraries showcasing the best of Door County. The journalists are free to write about whatever piques their interest along the way.

Sometimes the journalists visit us at Renard’s Artisan Cheese, and the groups get to engage with dedicated team members who are highly knowledgeable about our history, our cheeses, and what makes our company so special. The tours give them a chance to explore our store and to indulge in some scrumptious menu items from our deli, Melt Bistro. 

Since our blog readers typically delight in all things Door County, we thought you would enjoy perusing articles about our favorite local places. You’re sure to find inspiration for your next visit, and maybe you’ll even find some new destinations to add to your list for your next visit. See you soon!

Winter Travels: Experience a Day of Family Fun in Door County! ( (February 2022)

Great Lakes Boating – July 2022 ( (July 2022)- Door County article starts on page 15.

CTC62107 Summer 2022 Digital Magazine.pdf ( (Summer 2022)- Coast to Coast/Good Sam magazine. Door County segment starts on page 33 of the magazine. (May 2022)  (April/May 2022) (April 2022)  (April 2022) (March 2022) (Feb 2022) (Jan 2022)

What Is Whey, Anyway?

Everyone knows the nursery rhyme that starts with Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know what curds are, but have you ever wondered, “What is whey, anyway?”

Whey is the watery substance left over from the process of making cheese.  Sometimes bags of fresh cheese curds might have a little “juice” in the bottom of the bag, and that would be whey. While most people don’t think twice about it, drinking whey actually has quite a few health benefits. Those benefits include:

~ It’s a great source of high-quality protein, easily absorbed and utilized by your body
~ It’s high in essential amino acids which help build muscles and increase strength
~ It’s ideal for post-workout replenishment
~ It’s loaded with immunoglobulins and probiotics to promote a healthy immune system
~ It’s high in calcium which benefits your bones
~ It’s thought to alleviate some deficiencies that occur with diabetes, aging & other health problems.
~ It’s conducive to weight loss and reducing cholesterol levels
~ It’s easily digestible and contains no fat
~ In powder form, whey is the main ingredient in baby formulas and protein drinks

Cheese Crystals: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever picked up a piece of aged cheese, and noticed that it looks like it has specks of salt on it? Don’t write it off. Those are cheese crystals and they taste divine! Read on to learn, and impress your friends the next time you get together and eat cheese.

  • The first thing to know about crystals is that they are not mold or yeast
  • Secondly, cheese that is crystallized is entirely safe to eat. Some people actually prefer crystals!
  • Lastly, crystals are a sure sign of an aged cheese.
What causes crystals?

Cheese crystals are formed over time by the breakdown of fats and proteins. Fats and proteins bond together in chains when cheese is formed. As the cheese ages, the protein detaches from the fat, leaving behind small crunchy crystals that you see.

Are all crystals the same?

There are two different types of crystals: Calcium Lactate and Tyrosine.

Calcium Lactate forms on both the inside and outside of cheeses. Typically found in moist, aged cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Parmesan and Gouda. This type of crystal is softer, paler and more common. When good bacteria in the cheese break lactose down into lactic acid, this lactic acid combines with calcium to form Calcium Lactate Crystals. These crystals are made from calcium lactate salts that precipitate out of the milk as it’s turned into curds.

Tyrosine crystals only form on the interior of cheese. They are firmer, bigger and brighter white than Calcium Lactate. They consist of the same proteins found in milk. This type of crystal is found in dry, mature cheeses such as Swiss and Romano.

What do crystals taste like?

Crystals add a crunchy texture, similar to sea salt, and contribute a hearty and complex flavor.

I’m intrigued and want to try crystallized cheese. What should I buy?

Since it takes years to form crystals, your surest bet will be our 15-year cheddar. Typically, crystals can be seen starting around 7 years on cheddar, but it will vary by each piece. Some of our other aged cheddars that would possibly have crystals would be our 7-year, 9-year and 10-year cheddar. Next time you’re browsing at the store and you spot crystallized cheese, take a chance and try it. You might get hooked on these crunchy tidbits!

Oh, Fudge! Renard’s Homemade Fudge is Delicious!

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Fudge-Caramel Chocolate Pecan-0

Renard’s Cheese is known for our outstanding artisan cheese, but did you know that we also make our own gourmet fudge?  Yes, we do, and it is AMAZING! But it gets even better… when you visit either location of Renard’s Cheese, you can sample our fudge for yourself. We typically offer 10-15 flavors, and you can taste as many as you’d like. Side note: tasting more flavors only makes the decision about which flavor to buy even more complicated, but I know that you’re up for that challenge!

How long does fudge stay fresh?

Our fudge has a long shelf life, so it makes an ideal gift for your house-sitter, neighbors, friends and family. It can be stored at room temperature for up to 45 days. We recommend storing it in an airtight container someplace where it won’t be exposed to direct sunlight. And did you know that our fudge can be frozen for up to 1 year? Think about it, you can stock up for future gatherings or celebrations and enjoy a little piece of Door County flavor for months to come! Not visiting our stores soon? You can order online! We ship within the United States, year ’round.

What flavors are available?

Some of our most popular flavors include: Door County Cherry, Chocolate Caramel Pecan, Sea Salt Caramel, Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate, and of course, the classic Chocolate Fudge. Additional flavors are also available, and change throughout the year, so stop over at the Sample Table and have a look (and a taste!) of Renard’s own Cloverleaf Gourmet Fudge.

Cloverleaf Gourmet Fudge - Door County Cherry w/Chocolate-5195

FAQ About How We Make Our Cheese

Learn all about our cheese and the local milk that we use to make our cheese.

Where does Rosewood Dairy (Renard’s Cheese) get our milk from?
All of the milk used to make our cheeses comes from small, local Door and Kewaunee County family farms. Many of these farms are second and third generation, and have been with Renard’s Cheese since 1961 .
What type of cows do you get the milk from?
90-95% of our milk comes from Holstein cows and the rest of the milk is from Guernsey or Jersey cows.
Are the cows grass fed?
The cows are grass fed as the Wisconsin climate allows. They’re also fed a mixture of wheat and grains to enable them to produce the highest quality milk.
Is the milk hormone-free?
The farms that we get our milk from certify that their milk is free from genetically engineered hormones. Once at our factory, it is tested to confirm that it is free of antibiotics and to ensure it achieves the high-level of quality that we demand.
How much milk does it take to make one pound of cheese?
You may be surprised and the answer might even help justify spending a little more for our handcrafted cheeses. Each pound of cheese requires 10 pounds (or about 5 quarts) of cow’s milk. That’s a lot of milk!!
What kinds of cultures does Renard’s Cheese use when making cheese?
The first stage in making cheese is to ripen the milk. During the ripening process, lactose is converted into lactic acid. Cheese makers use starter cultures to control this ripening process. We use both thermophilic and mesophilic cultures. Which culture we use depends on the type of cheese we are making.
Mesophilic is a non-heat loving culture, and is used for making cheeses that are not heated to more than 102 degrees. This is the most common and is used to make 90% of the varieties of cheeses. Some of these cheeses include soft cheese, blue cheese, feta, farmers, Colby, cheddar, brie and others.
Thermophilic is a heat loving culture and is used to make cheeses that can be heated to 130 degrees. It is used in most Italian cheeses, such as parmesan, provolone, mozzarella, Swiss, Monterey jack, etc.
What makes the cheese yellow? Is there dye in your cheese?

We do not use any chemical dyes. Our coloring comes from annatto, which is a food coloring derived from the seeds of achiote tree. The achiote tree is native to tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil. Annatto is often used to impart a yellow or orange color to foods.

Tips for Traveling with Cheese

Imagine that you’re on vacation in Door County. You stop and taste the deliciousness that Renard’s Artisan Cheese offers. You find so many fabulous flavors that you can’t wait to take a bunch of it home to share with your friends and family, and some for yourself as well! But then you realize that you don’t know how to get all of this glorious cheese home without it spoiling. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Most cheeses are pretty low-maintenance, and we’re going to walk you through your options for getting it home.

Just because you’re flying doesn’t mean that you can’t take loads of cheese home with you. Of course it helps to come prepared…Some of our customers bring in a suitcase each summer for us to stock up with their favorite cheeses!

Flying with cheese

Let’s start with what the TSA has to say
~ Blocks of cheese, shredded cheese and cheese curds can go in either your carry-on luggage or your checked baggage, whichever works better for you. The great news is that you can bring as much cheese as you can fit in your bags! Trust us when we say that the Green Bay airport TSA agents will not be surprised.
~ Spreads and Dips, or as the TSA refers to them as “creamy cheeses” can ONLY go in checked luggage, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment. There is no quantity limit, but it’s recommended to pack them with ice packs to keep them cool. For your convenience, Renard’s Artisan Cheese sells ice packs that are already frozen and very reasonably priced. If the spreads are completely frozen they may be allowed in your carry-on bags. However, with the long delays involved with flying these days, this is not recommended.
~ Ice packs in your carry-on luggage must be completely frozen, or else they are considered liquid and may not be allowed on the plane. This rule does not apply to ice packs in bags that are checked.
~ If you are traveling internationally, verify the rules of your destination. Some places do not allow dairy products to be brought into their country.
~ During your travels, be aware that the TSA agents may need to inspect your cheeses, at their discretion.

Please note that the TSA has the ultimate authority to refuse and/or confiscate items, and this blog is no guarantee that your items will be allowed on the plane, as circumstances may vary.

Car travel with cheese

Ideally you’ll be able to keep your cheeses cool by storing them in your cooler, or perhaps a refrigerator at your hotel or rental. Spreads and shredded cheeses are a priority when it comes to keeping them cool, as spoilage can set in quicker with the softer varieties of cheese.

No room in your cooler for all your favorite cheeses? No problem! For your convenience we sell small and large pre-chilled hot/cold bags, and ice gel packs that are already frozen. We also sell 7# bags of ice cubes, in case you need to top off your cooler. If you’re planning ahead, you can bring your own hot/cold bag from home. Door County offers lots of opportunities to utilize it throughout your vacation!

Only driving for a few hours? Block cheeses that are sealed in their original packaging will be okay at room temperature during your trip. Keep them in the main part of the vehicle, where the air conditioning is running, not in the trunk.

Bonus: cheese curd tip

If you will be eating your cheese curds within 24 hours of purchasing them, do NOT refrigerate them. Cold curds don’t squeak, and because they are so fresh (we make them every day!) they will be absolutely fine at room temperature. Cheese curds should be refrigerated when they are older than 24 hours old, though they taste best if they are brought up to room temperature or slightly warmed before eating them.

General travel tips for cheese

~ Pack your cheese curds in a ziploc baggie, or a tied up plastic shopping bag. Whey can leak out of the original cheese curd packaging and make a mess.
~ Instead of buying larger blocks of cheese, buy multiple 1/2# blocks. That way you’ll only be opening the cheese you’ll be using soon, and the rest will remain sealed and fresh for a long time.
~ If you have any questions, our store associates are very knowledgeable and would be glad to help you out.

Still couldn’t get all the cheese you wanted? Order online 24/7 on our website. We ship year-round to anywhere in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. We ship cheeses, wines, sweets, and various other local goodies so that you can have a taste of Door County whenever the mood strikes.

Don’t forget- next time you’re in Door County, stop at Renard’s Artisan Cheese and stock up! Your friends and family will thank you!

Cheese Curds 101

Who loves cheese curds? You do! It’s apparent that you, our amazing customers, can’t get enough of these bits of creamy, salty, squeaky cheese. Here at Renard’s Artisan Cheese they are our biggest seller. During our busy summer season we can sell over 300 pounds of them in a single day! So we’ve put together some of the most popular questions that people ask us about cheese curds, so you can learn too. Ready? Here we go…

What are cheese curds? How are they made? Curds are one of the earliest stages of cheesemaking and are made from only three ingredients: fresh pasteurized milk, starter cultures, and rennet. Rennet is a natural ingredient, used to coagulate the milk and turn it into cheese. After the cheese solidifies, it’s cut into pieces, resulting in curds and whey. The liquid that you sometimes see in your bag of cheese curds is the whey.

Why do they squeak? When fresh cheese curds squeak, it’s them saying they love you too 🙂 But scientifically, the squeak is caused by proteins in the curds being tightly bound, and your teeth rubbing against those proteins creates the sound. After the first day or two the proteins start to break down. That’s why curds eventually stop squeaking, and also explains why curds taste best when they are fresh. At Renard’s Artisan Cheese we make our cheese curds fresh every day. That’s why they’re so delicious!

Should I refrigerate my cheese curds? Cheese curds do not need to be refrigerated until they are 24 hours old. After that, it’s recommended that curds are kept in the refrigerator. That being said, they taste best at room temperature. Warm them up by either microwaving them for a couple of seconds or let them sit on the counter for a bit before enjoying them.

What’s the difference between yellow and white cheese curds? Both our yellow curds and our white curds are made of cheddar cheese. The only difference between them is annatto, which is a plant-based coloring agent that makes the cheese yellow. Although the yellow and white curds taste the same, some guests have a distinct preference for one over the other. Renard’s Artisan Cheese offers white curds on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Yellow curds are available every day.

Why does Renard’s sometimes run out of cheese curds in their store? Our cheesemakers start in the earliest hours of the day, since it takes about 5 hours to make a batch of fresh curds and get them bagged up for sale. Planning ahead is essential for us, but sometimes we are much busier than expected, we get a tour bus that comes through unexpectedly, or some other reason that causes us to sell out of curds. Don’t worry, we’ll make more the next day! If you just can’t wait to taste that squeaky goodness, our curds are also available at several businesses throughout the area.

Do you have flavored cheese curds? We absolutely do! When you’re in our stores, just take your curds over to our Sample Table, and our associate will add the flavoring. While you wait, sample some of our amazing cheeses and our tantalizing homemade fudge. You can also order our most popular flavored cheese curds on our website.

Congratulations, you’ve just completed Renard’s Cheese Curds 101!

Mixing fresh curds in the vat at Rosewood Dairy

Meet our Melt Bistro

Renards Cheese Store Sandwich
Renards Cheese Store Sandwich

Renards Cheese Melt
locations deli cheese melt sandwich

“A sweetened cream cheese & sourdough sandwich dipped in French toast batter, grilled, then topped with Door County cherries, toasted almonds and whipped cream. Served with a side of maple syrup.”

“Macaroni and cheese topped with bacon, pulled pork, chicken & shredded medium cheddar, baked until bubbly, topped with golden panko bread crumbs, drizzled with BBQ sauce and sprinkled with scallions.”

And so begins your introduction to Melt Bistro (Did I just hear your stomach rumble?) These delectable dishes are just two examples of the mouthwatering options that you can find on our menu. We use fresh, local ingredients and our famous handcrafted cheeses to create homestyle comfort foods that you’re sure to enjoy.

What is Melt Bistro, you ask?

Over the last few years, the deli inside of our Sturgeon Bay location of Renard’s Cheese has grown up. It debuted a new look, a new menu, a new dining room, and also a new name- Melt Bistro! Named after the hot sandwiches that are featured prominently on our menu, it’s a great option for a quick snack, a sit-down meal, or grabbing food to go. We’ve even got all day breakfast choices.

You can enjoy your fare in our newly built dining room or outdoors on our patio. We’ve got plenty of picnic tables with umbrellas for shade in our spacious front and back yards, or bring a blanket and have a true picnic on the grass. We’ve got lots of space to spread out and enjoy the Door County sunshine! Want to call in an order for pickup? You can do that too! Call Melt Bistro direct at 920-825-7272 x105.

If you’re planning to entertain, Melt Bistro can make custom cheese trays and charcuterie boards that will be the envy of your friends. Just give us at least 24 hours notice and we’ll take care of the rest.

Sweet Treats TOO!

If you’re just looking for a treat, we’ve got something for you too. Melt Bistro sells hand-scooped ice cream made right here in Wisconsin by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. This super-premium, award-winning ice cream is rich and creamy and tastes absolutely sinful! The flavors are something to behold. How about This $&@! Just Got Serious (salted caramel ice cream with sea salt fudge and salted cashews) or Munchie Madness (cake batter ice cream with Oreos, M&M pieces and peanut butter cups) or Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (cheesecake ice cream with a sweet raspberry ripple, Oreos and soft chocolate chunks), just to name a few?

Check out our Melt Bistro menu here.

Melt Bistro is open the same hours as Renard’s Cheese. Our hours are Monday through Friday 8 AM – 5 PM, Saturday and Sunday 9 AM – 4 PM. Next time you visit our Sturgeon Bay location, be sure to stop at Melt Bistro to satisfy your hunger.

Comment below and tell us about your experience at Melt Bistro!