Wisconsin Tops Awards In U.S. Cheese Contest

Wisconsin reaffirmed its national leadership by taking top honors at the recent U.S. Championship Cheese Contest for the show's best cheese and 115 awards in all, more than any other state. The U.S. Champion was awarded to SarVecchio® Parmesan an extra-aged style made by Sartori Food Corp. in Antigo, Wis.

SarVecchio, the recipient of numerous awards since its creation, has a crumbly texture with deep nutty and sweet overtones.

Wisconsin dominated the contest's 64 categories. Awards included:

  • 41 Best of Class (64 percent of Best of Class Awards) – more than five times as many as any other state.
  • 38 Second Awards (59 percent of Second Awards).
  • 35 Third Awards (55 percent of Third Awards).

Additionally, Wisconsin dairy producers swept the top three places in 20 categories: Cheddar, Aged 1-2 Years; Colby; Swiss Style Cheese; Feta; Havarti; Flavored Havarti; Gorgonzola; Brick, Muenster; Edam, Gouda; Quesos para Fundir (melting cheeses); Pepper Flavored American Styles; Pepper Flavored Other Styles; Cold Pack Cheese; Pasteurized Process Cheeses; Semi-Soft Goat's Milk Cheeses; Soft & Semi-Soft Sheep's Milk; Flavored Soft & Semi-Soft Sheep's; Hard Mixed Milk Cheeses; Open Class Shredded Cheese; Unsalted Butter.

"Wisconsin cheesemakers continue to show, year after year, that this state is home to some of the finest craftsmen in the world," said Patrick Geoghegan, senior vice president of Corporate Communications for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. "We are truly pleased with this year's exceptional showing and commend Wisconsin cheesemakers for their dedication to the highest quality products."

The U.S. Championship Cheese Contest is the nation's oldest and largest cheese and butter competition. Wisconsin cheesemakers have earned 11 of the 15 Champion titles since the competition began in 1981.

A record 1,360 entries from 32 states vied for this year's title at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. From March 17-19, expert judges from across the United States tested the flavor, body, texture, salt, color, finish and packaging of each entry. Based on the average score given by each judge, cheeses are awarded a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal.

Gold medal Best of Class distinctions were won by Wisconsin cheesemakers and dairy producers in 41 of 65 categories:

  • Cheddar, mild – David Schmidt, Trega Foods (Weyauwega), Cheddar, Mild
  • Cheddar, sharp – Dan Stearns, Trega Foods (Weyauwega), Cheddar, Sharp
  • Cheddar, aged 1-2 years – Terry Lensmire, Trega Foods (Little Chute), Cheddar, Aged 1-2 Years
  • Bandaged Cheddar – Wayne Hintz/ Dan Curran, Springside Cheese Corp. (Oconto Falls), Bandaged Cheddar
  • Colby – R & J Brothers, La Grander's Hillside Dairy, Inc. (Stanley), Colby, Mild
  • Swiss Style Cheese – Team Gran Cru, Roth Käse USA Ltd. (Monroe), Petite Swiss
  • Mozzarella – Appleton #1, Foremost Farms USA (Appleton), Whole Milk Mozzarella
  • Mozzarella, Part Skim – Production Floor, Foremost Farms USA (Alma Center), Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella
  • Provolone, mild – Pat Doell, Trega Foods (Luxemburg), Provolone
  • Parmesan – John Griffiths, Sartori Food Corporation (Antigo), SarVecchio Parmesan
  • Baby Swiss Style – Silvan Blum, Chalet Cheese Co-op (Monroe), Baby Swiss
  • Feta – David Schmidt, Trega Foods (Weyauwega), Feta
  • Feta, flavored – Jim Demeter, Trega Foods (Weyauwega), Feta with Basil & Tomato
  • Havarti – Ron Bechtolt, Klondike Cheese Company (Monroe), Havarti
  • Havarti, flavored – Kyle Nackers, Arla Foods Hollandtown (Kaukauna), Havarti with Dill
  • Gorgonzola – Bryon Schroeder, Sartori Food Corporation (Linden), Dolcina Gorgonzola
  • Blue Veined – Bryon Schroeder, Sartori Food Corporation (Linden), Blue
  • Brick, Muenster - Matt Erdley, Klondike Cheese Company (Monroe), Brick
  • Brie, Camembert – Brad Hamilton, Lactalis USA, Inc. (Belmont), Brie
  • Edam, Gouda – Gary Grossen, Babcock Dairy Plant (Madison), Gouda
  • Quesos para Fundir – Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy, Inc. (Brodhead), Quesos para Fundir
  • Smear Ripened Cheeses – Willi Lehner, Bleu Mont Dairy (Blue Mounds), Lil Wils Big Cheese
  • Pepper Flavored American Styles – Richard Wold, AMPI (Jim Falls), Cheddar with Chipotle Chiles
  • Pepper Flavored Other Styles – Rob Stellrecht, Burnett Dairy Cooperative (Grantsburg), Pepper String
  • Flavored Hard Cheeses – Kerry Henning, Henning Cheese, Inc. (Kiel), Cheddar Daisy with Cracked Peppercorn
  • Open Class Soft Cheeses – LCD Mascarpone Team, Lake Country Dairy (Turtle Lake), Fresh Mascarpone
  • Cold Pack Cheese – Team Bel Brands USA, Bel Brands USA Inc. (Kaukauna), Port Wine
  • Spreadable Cheeses – Jay Austin, Kraft Foods (Beaver Dam), Cream Cheese
  • Pasteurized Process Cheeses – Amy Symons, Lactalis USA, Inc. (Belmont), Wee Brie
  • Semi-Soft Goat's Milk Cheeses – Linda Davis, Montchevre Betin Inc. (Belmont), Bucheron
  • Flavored Semi-Soft Goat's Milk – Sid Cook, Carr Valley Cheese Co. (La Valle), Cocoa Cardona
  • Soft & Semi-Soft Sheep's Milk – Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery (Westby), Driftless
  • Flavored Soft & Semi-Soft Sheep's – Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery (Westby), Driftless-Honey/Lavender
  • Hard Sheep's Milk Cheeses – Sid Cook, Carr Valley Cheese Co. (La Valle), Virgin Pine Native Sheep
  • Flavored Soft/Semi-Soft Mixed Milk – Alan Bekkum, Nordic Creamery (Plain) Sarah Select with Peppers
  • Surface Ripened Mixed Milk – Sid Cook, Carr Valley Cheese Co. (La Valle), Cave Aged Mellage
  • Hard Mixed Milk Cheeses – Alan Bekkum, Nordic Creamery (Plain), Smoked Capriko
  • Salted Butter – Donald Much, Grassland Dairy Products, Inc. (Greenwood), Salted Butter
  • Unsalted Butter – Marcus Holzl, Grassland Dairy Products, Inc. (Greenwood), Unsalted Butter
  • Retail Packaging – Kurt Premo, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC (Waterloo), Petit Frere
  • Open Class Shredded Cheese – Masters Gallery Team, Masters Gallery Foods, Inc. (Plymouth), Shredded Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese

The United States Cheese Championship is hosted biennially by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. For more information about the contest, please visit www.wischeesemakersassn.org or www.EatWisconsinCheese.com.