Cheese makers from America’s Dairyland dominated at the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, held at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, taking home top honors in 58 of 101 judged categories and sweeping the top three overall.
Plymouth-based Sartori Co. won the overall competition with its Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BelaVitano. First runner-up went to a cheddar aged one to two years by Weyauwega-based Agropur. Maireke Gouda of Thorp, Wisconsin was second runner up.
Wisconsin cheese makers took a total of 55 percent of the top three positions in the contest’s more than 100 categories.
"Location aside, what these winning cheese makers have in common is experience and passion," said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, the contest host organization. "As we recognize the efforts of these fine craftsmen and women, we support continuous improvement in the cheese making industry, and in the products we all enjoy with our family and friends."
The biennial contest has been held for 36 years. The 2017 version had a record 2,303 entries from 33 states. Vermont cheese makers were second with seven first place awards and New York was third with six.
In addition to its overall title, Sartori took home a total of eight top-three awards including two firsts, three seconds and three thirds.
Cheese makers from southeastern Wisconsin took home a total of 20 top-three awards, including three first place, a second and a third place award for Richfield-based Saputo Specialty Cheese; a first and two seconds for Masters Gallery Foods of Plymouth; a first and a third for Cesar’s Cheese from Random Lake; a third for Cedar Valley Cheese of Belgium and a third for Mighty Fine Foods of Milwaukee.