Wisconsin continues winning streak at ACS competition

Colleen Kottke

DENVER, CO - A semi-hard washed rind cheese made from the milk of Jersey cows was named 'Best of Show' at the American Cheese Society's 2017 Judging and Competition.

2017 Best of Show: Tarentaise Reserve, Farms For City Kids Foundation/Spring Brook Farm, VT.

‘Tarentaise Reserve’ from Spring Brook Farm Cheese/Farms for City Kids Foundation in Vermont was the top cheese among 2,024 entries in the competition which featured entries from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Colombia. This is an increase of 181 entries over last year's competition.

The results were announced at the 34th Annual ACS Conference: ‘Cheese with Altitude’ in Denver.

The runner-up finish for Best of Show was awarded to ‘St. Malachi’, an Apine-style cow's milk cheese with a firm washed rind created by The Farm at Doe Run in Pennsylvania, followed by ‘Harbison’ spreadable bloomy-rind cheese wrapped in spruce bark crafted by Cellars at Jasper Hill in Vermont.

According to contest results, this year's competition exceeded last year's event in several categories including an increase in the number of total entries with 2,024 entries of cheeses and cultured dairy products from 281 companies, a 10 percent increase over last year.

The number of cheese companies competing in the professionally judged event have also increased with 36 representing the U.S., four Canadian provinces, Mexico, and Colombia. The U.S. garnered 385 first place ratings followed by 22 from Canada and three from Mexico.

Wisconsin earned one-third of all first place entries with cheesemakers, butter and yogurt makers taking home 34 blue ribbons (runner-up California had 15 top finishes), 35 second and 49 third place ribbons. America's Dairyland earned an impressive 29 percent (119 ribbons) of the 410 ribbons awarded by the ACS.

“Artisan cheese is clearly on a growth curve in both quality and diversity. We are thrilled by the record number of entries in this year’s ACS competition. It is a testament to the creativity and vitality of artisan cheesemakers,” Nora Weiser, ACS executive director told PR Web.

Wisconsin cheesemakers, butter and yogurt makers, claimed 29 percent of all awards, including 34 first place ribbons, 35 second place and 49 third place. Out of 108 cheese awards, 56 went to certified Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers.

According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Wisconsin cheese and dairy companies swept nine categories:

• Fresh Unripened Cheeses, Cheese Curds – all milks
• American Originals, Brick Cheese – made from cow’s milk
• American Originals, Brick Muenster – made from cow’s milk
• Italian Type Cheeses, Grating Types – all milks
• Flavored Cheeses, Feta with Flavor Added – all milks
• Flavored Cheeses, Rubbed Rind Cheese – all milks
• Smoked Cheeses, Open Category – made from cow’s milk
• Cultured Milk and Cream Products – all milks
• Cheese Spreads, Open Category Cold Pack Style – all milks

Among Wisconsin cheesemakers, Maple Leaf Cheesemakers earned four blue ribbons and nine overall. Earning three first place finishes was Cedar Grove Cheese and The Artisan Cheese Exchange (five ribbons overall).

George and Debbie Crave, president and vice president of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese of Waterloo, WI, celebrate winning a blue and red ribbon for their company's mozzarella cheese at the American Cheese Society's 2017 Judging and Competition last month in Denver, CO. Wisconsin cheesemakers were the top winners in the competition.

Klondike Cheese was among cheese plants earning two first place finishes. However, the Monroe-based plant took home the most ribbons of Wisconsin cheesemakers, earning 14.

Other cheese plants earning at least two top finishes include: Arena Cheese, Bel Gioioso Cheese, Edelwiess Cheese, Emmi Roth USA, Lactalis American Group, Widmer's Cheese Cellar, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, Merieke Gouda, Mt. Sterling Cheese, Schuman Cheese, V&V Supreme Foods and Yodelay Yogurt.

“We are proud of the talent, passion and dedication that earned our Wisconsin cheesemakers another strong showing at this year’s competition. Wisconsin is honored to be among the many other incredible cheese and dairy products represented from across America.” said Suzanne Fanning, Vice President of National Product Communications at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board in a news release.