A calf no longer, Sassy Cow Creamery turns 5
Excerpted from Wisconsin State Journal
By Jack Cullen
One lick of the smooth, frosty vanilla ice cream made Danny and Donna Poggioli’s 15-hour drive from New York City temporarily disappear. Finally, they felt like they were in Wisconsin.
“This is what we came for. The back country roads and some awesome ice cream,” Donna Poggioli said outside the Sassy Cow Creamery’s store and bottling facility in Columbia County between Sun Prairie and Columbus.
Since opening in 2008, Sassy Cow’s grass-roots beginnings and organic focus have attracted swarms of tourists and local buyers, making its “milk with an attitude” one of the most popular dairy products in the state.
Reaching the milestone wasn’t easy for brothers and co-owners James and Robert Baerwolf, who have farmed the fields around Sassy Cow their whole lives. They placed a $1.5 million bet on themselves, adding a milk processing facility to their farm despite having little experience in processing or marketing.
Sassy Cow sold $4 million in products last year and continues to market its “milk with an attitude” brand and increase its variety of about 75 ice cream flavors.
“It has been quite the learning process,” Baerwolf said. “Milk is what keeps our doors open and keeps our business viable, but ice cream is what keeps us fun.”
Sassy Cow’s rapid rise has been pushed along by a wave of interest in local and organic products.
“They were good farmers to start with, and their business and marketing skills are what made for success,” said UW-Madison dairy economist Bob Cropp. “Sassy Cow is in a unique market, and they have been able to capitalize from it.”
Baerwolf also notes Sassy Cow was a good fit with Madisonians’ tastes.
“It’s the biggest blessing to be close to Madison. People are receptive and interested in local farms,” Baerwolf said. “When people take interest in what they’re eating, that’s good for farmers, good for the product, and allows businesses like us to succeed.”