Adelard Vanasse built the Cheese Factory in 1918 with the help of his son      Armond, at the intersection called Four Corners. By 1925 the factory started to appear in the Wisconsin Dairy Foods Commissioner Reports under the name of BASS LAKE. The owner was listed as C.A. Bulgrin. During that time there were living quarters above the factory where some of the Cheesemakers would live with the Bulgrin family.


Back in the 20’s and 30’s employees worked seven days a week. During some years, in the summer months, truckers drove an extra evening route to pick up milk for an extra $10 a month. In the Mid 30’s wages went from $65 to $75 a month. A $10 cut in pay came in the fall to help pay the factory’s fuel bill. Also in the 30’s, Mr. Bulgrin had a snow plow installed on one of the trucks making for happy customers who had their roads and driveways opened up for them. The Factory made Colby, Cheddar and other longhorn style cheeses everyday. Twice a week cream was picked up and butter was made.

In 1941 the Bulgrins sold the land to Ed and Hilda Ferber. In 1947 the land was again transfered to a group of people who formed the Wissota Cheese Company. It was a company out of White Bear Lake Minnesota. They also produced under the Bass Lake Name as well as the Seakist Food name. It was owned by Robert Ferrar, Sr., Robert Ferrar, Jr., Paul Grey, Rodney McMullin, K.W. VanGuilder and Don Foedisch.

Picture 6

The factory was doing some remodeling and expansion work when, on August 22,1973, a fire destroyed much of the building and equipment. The store was only closed for four days and the factory area was still producing cheese. In 1974 a larger retail store and gift shop was added. Many of the Cheesemaker wives worked in the retail shop.

On February 24, 1984 Wissota Cheese closed. In August of 1984 Olfisco, Inc. bought the factory and ran it under the name of Cheese World, the Bass Lake name was also used.

Scott Erickson began working for Ofisco in 1984 making cheese. His wife Julie began working in the office in 1987. In October of 1991 Scott and Julie Erickson purchased the factory. After doing some remodeling in the store area they opened for business in January of 1992. Like all business, during the 1st year things needed replacing, repairing and altering. Things had to be added and taken away. New things had to be learned. Ideas came and went except for the major goal of Bass Lake Cheese Factory is to make the best cheese possible and give our customers the best service we can. Scott insists on doing things the Hands method. He says it takes longer to produce the cheese, but the result is better. Scott is still using most of the equipment that was installed in 1958.

In1994 Scott was asked by Land-O-Lakes and International Aid to go to Romania and help teach cheesemaking at a new factory. In 1998 Scott and Julie were asked to go to Macedonia to help them with cheesemaking. Scott taught cheesemaking and Julie taught marketing. Scott was later asked to return to Macedonia for followup visits.

In 1998 Scott also became a Master Cheesemaker. This is a program in Wisconsin and is the only one of its kind in the United States. It gives the cheesemakers a formal sequence of courses for cheese education. Scott currently is a Master in Six different cheeses. The six cheeses Scott is a Master in are Cheddar, Montery Jack, Muenster, Chev’re, Colby and Juusto Leipa.

In 2010 we have begun to do some remodeling of our retail area. We have moved somethings around and added a patio door which leads out onto a beautiful deck where you can enjoy the countryside. We have added some seating not only inside, but outside as well. We have been serving sandwiches for a few years now and have added homemade soups and Chili as well as meatball sandwiches. Not only do we serve sandwiches and soup, we now are able to offer Beer, Wine, Bloody Mary’s and some Mixed Drinks. In the summer of 2011 we added Pizza to our Menu. Made right here with our fresh grated Cheese. Summer 2014 we began expanding our menu to include made to order Burgers from local meat.   There are a lot of exciting things that will be happening in the coming Years not only with the store but with Scott&’s award winning Cheeses!!

15 thoughts on “History

  1. Eric S Steen says:

    I have been going to bass lake cheese factory for almost 20 year. We now drive over 60 miles to get cheese. They have never failed to have any type of cheese in stock and we have asked for some unusual ones, e.i. soc cheese. Great place!

  2. Katie Roberts says:

    We are WI ex-pats and our 8 year old son has been asking for 2 summers to tour a cheese factory. Do you happen to give tours to elementary age children? Our extended family (6 cousins ages 6-10) will be in the area for a wedding in July,
    and the kids would be enthusiastic about the cheese making process. Thanks!

    • JOSH says:

      Our cheese making schedule is determined week by week. If you give us a call closer to the date we can check to see if we have any cheese making scheduled for that week. Otherwise we do have a video as well as a viewing window available regardless the activity. We are always willing to to answer any questions you may have about cheese making.

      We look forward to seeing you!

      -BLCF staff

  3. Pam Erler says:

    We love Bass Lake cheese, especially the aged cheddars. They’re fantastic! We also enjoy bringing our grandkids along for lunch or ice cream on the patio in the summer. It’s so fun to be in the middle of the beautiful Wisconsin countryside. With the new bridge over the St. Croix it’s much easier to get to BLCF from our house in Arden Hills, MN.

    • Sarah Martinsen says:

      Thank you for those wonderful words! We are pleased to hear you enjoy our Factory! The new bridge was a long waited project we are glad to see finished. See you on your next visit

  4. Dawn and Bob Benjamin says:

    My husband and I had to come to Somerset to pick up a dresser from a family and we passed the Bass Lake Cheese Factory and on the way back home I said let’s stop in and check it out… and then we saw their food items and we bought their chocolate cheese and their little cow cheese and some of their chocolate Labrador beer and we had a really fun time checking out the displays and the window with the cheese-making equipment, really a cute little area and would like to come back this summer time and bring a girlfriend with me and maybe my hubby again also!
    My husband and I both had hamburgers for a late afternoon lunch and early dinner and they were really good tasting and I also had cheese curds with mine!!

    Thank you so much!

    The Benjamin’s from Brooklyn Park, MN

  5. Leo Radunz says:

    I haven’t been there since the the early 60’s. My dad used get a big block of extra sharp cheddar and a small block of Limburger and a couple of other kinds every time we went. I didn’t see Limburger on your list of cheese. Did you stop selling it?

  6. Melinda Galen says:

    HI Leo,
    We no longer sell Limburger cheese, we do sell German Brick which is a little milder than Limburger cheese. It is our closest product we sell to Limburger.

  7. James R McClure says:

    Going to the Bass Lake Cheese Factory with my Dad after hikes along the Willow River. It is truly one of the fondest memories of my youth! I am so glad you are still around and still producing the Caraway Jack! Having left the Twin Cities after graduating from the U of M, I joined the Peace Corps and have since lived in other parts of the world. Now, however; when I visit, “The Cities”, a trip to the Bass Lake Cheese Factory is always on my agenda!

  8. Val Schermerhorn says:

    Stopped into the BLCF today with my friend, she wanted to get some chocolate cheese, so I purchased some also. We then decided to have lunch, we ordered the fish fry, cheese curds, and tomato basil soup. Omg the cheese curds were the best I have ever had, very light batter, and the cheese was creamy. The fish fry was delicious, we shared an order as you get so much, and you also get a warm, fresh bun, fries, and coleslaw, everything was delicious, the soup was also great. We had so much food left over and I took it home, now I have to bring my husband there. Food was wonderful, and the service was exceptional. Thank you BLCF, I’ll be back.

  9. Sandi Sauber says:

    Have been here on multiple occasions, the food is always outstanding. The cheese curds are bar non the best curds we have ever had!! They literally melt in your mouth!! The batter is so delicious and light! The burgers are amazing and the salad I had was spectacular. The new Pickle Zinger Cheese is one of my favorites, the atmosphere here is awesome! The staff is so nice and helpful, all around it is always an amazing experience!!

  10. Kate R, Big Lake MN says:

    We were out for a motorcycle ride with no where to go… We happen to come across BLCF and decided to head there. GLAD we did, this place is great, food is great and staff was even more great.
    Thank you for a great afternoon!
    We will be back!

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