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Wisconsin Wins Big at ACS

A resounding chorus of WHOO-HOO echoed across Chicago tonight as Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook, Carr Valley Cheese, captured Best of Show out of 1,149 entries here at the American Cheese Society competition.

Sid’s Snow White Goat Cheddar was deemed the top cheese in America by a prestigious panel of more than 30 national judges. In typical style, Sid not only took the top prize, but 17 other ribbons, including 2nd runner-up Best in Show for his Cave Aged Marisa.

This is the sixth time in the past 10 years that Wisconsin has captured the Best in Show award at ACS. Past winners include Uplands Cheese’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve (2001 & 2005), Carr Valley Cheese’s Gran Canaria (2004), Roth Kase’s Gruyere (1999) and Lovetree Farm’s Trade Lake Cedar (1998).

While Wisconsin typically does very well at this competition, one thing that struck me was the amount of sheep and goat’s milk winners from the state. More than one-quarter of all the awards won by our cheesemakers were for either goat, sheep or mixed-milk cheeses.

Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, a cheesemaker near Westby, took six awards for her fresh and aged sheep’s milk cheeses. She even swept the Fresh Sheep’s Milk Cheeses, Flavor Added category with her many flavors of Driftless.

Then there was Al Bekkum, who launched his Nordic Creamery and goat’s milk/blended milk cheeses just in the past year. He took home a first for his Capriko, a perfect blend of goat and cow’s milk that carries a sweet nutty flavor. He also captured second for his one and only Feddost — an American Original blended milk cheese with traditional Norwegian flavor of cumin and cloves.

Other goat, sheep and mixed milk winners included Dreamfarm near Cross Plains, Lactalis in Belmont, Montchevre in Belmont, Pasture Pride in Cashton and the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative.

But goat, sheep and mixed milk cheeses weren’t the only big winners for Wisconsin. Coming out of the shoot in only her second year of cheesemaking was Marieke Penterman, who won eight – yes eight – awards for her amazing Dutch style goudas. You go, girl.

Here’s a list of all the Wisconsin first-place winners:
Of a total of 1,149 total entries, Wisconsin cheesemakers scored nearly one third of all awards bestowed, more than any other state. Our 91 awards included 25 firsts, 32 seconds and 34 third places.

All in all, cheesemakers from 181 companies in 30 U.S. states and Canada were represented. It was one of the biggest contests ever for ACS, and I can’t wait to try each every cheese tomorrow night at the Festival of Cheese!!
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