The streets of Seattle are singing the praises of Wisconsin cheesemakers tonight, as America’s Dairyland swept the 2010 American Cheese Society competition, winning nearly one-third of all awards, including the prestigious Best of Show prize.

Out of 1,462 total entries, Wisconsin cheesemakers scored 98 awards, including 29 firsts, 36 seconds and 33 third places. Cheesemakers from 225 companies in 34 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico were represented.

Taking the top prize of the night was Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve, made by Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville, Wis.. It is the third time Pleasant Ridge Reserve has won Best of Show at the American Cheese Society, winning previously in 2001 and 2005, and is the only cheese in the history of the competition to win the top prize three times.

The win is especially sweet for the company, as the winning cheese was made by Andy Hatch, who has acted as Uplands’ primary cheesemaker since 2007. The previous-winning Pleasant Ridges were crafted by company owner Mike Gingrich. Both Mike, his wife, Carol, and Andy were on hand tonight to accept the prize.

“It sure helps to hire a good cheesemaker,” joked Mike, putting his arm around Andy’s shoulders and giving him a squeeze. “This is an especially meaningful award – to have won this competition three times in 10 years is just amazing. I don’t know what to say.”

Andy Hatch was equally speechless. “Can you just make up something for me that sounds good? I’m not thinking straight,” he said, smiling. “Wow, what a night. It’s going to be a good night.”

The cheese that won the top prize was aged longer than most Pleasant Ridge Reserves on the market. Retailers were putting their order in tonight, as Mike says he’s got about 1,000 wheels of this particular cheese, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

In addition to the Uplands crew, a host of Wisconsin cheesemakers swept the competition, including perennial favorite Sid Cook at Carr Valley Cheese in LaValle. Cook left the auditorium with a basket full of 18 ribbons. BelGioioso Cheese in Denmark, captured the second most ribbons for Wisconsin, with a total of 7 awards, and Sartori Foods in Plymouth took home six ribbons.

First place ribbons for Wisconsin cheesemakers went to:

Arthur Schuman, Inc, Montfort: Montforte Gorgonzola Cheese
BelGioioso Cheese, Denmark: Sharp Provolone Mandarino
Bleu Mont Dairy, Blue Mounds: Lil Wils BIG Cheese
Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle: Smoked Billy Blue, Fresh Marisa, Native Sheep
Cesar’s Cheese, Random Lake: Oaxaca String Cheese
DreamFarm, Cross Plains: Fresh Goat Cheese with Pesto
Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello: Cellar Aged Grass Based Gouda, Grass Based Emmentaler
Emmi-Roth Käse USA, Monroe: GranQueso
Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby: Driftless Honey Lavender
Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp: Marieke Gouda Onion Garlic, Marieke Gouda Smoked
Klondike Cheese, Monroe: Brick, Reduced Fat Feta
Lactalis American Group, Belmont: 1 kg Brie
Montchevre-Betin, Belmont: Chevre in Blue – Goat Milk Blue Cheese
North Hendren Cooperative Dairy, Willard: Black River Caraway Blue
Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton: Extra Sharp Cheddar Cold Pack Cheese Food
Sartori Foods, Plymouth: Sartori Reserve BellaVitano Gold, Sartori Reserve Pastorale Blend, Sartori Asiago, Sartori Reserve Balsamic BellaVitano
Saxon Homestead Creamery, Cleveland: Green Fields
Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville: Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Ridge Reserve
Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, Theresa: Traditional Colby, 8 Year Cheddar

In addition to landing the most first place awards, Wisconsin cheesemakers swept 11 categories, including: American Originals Brick Cheese; American Originals Colby; American Originals Made from Sheep’s Milk or Mixed Milk; Blue Mold Cheese Made from Cow’s Milk; Blue Mold Cheese Made from Goat’s Milk; Italian Type Cheeses Grating Types; Italian Type Cheeses Pasta Filata; Smoked Cheeses Made from Cow’s Milk; Fresh Sheep’s Milk Cheeses Flavor Added; Cheese Spreads Made from Cow’s Milk; and Aged Sheep’s Milk Cheeses.

Winning Second Place, Runner-Up Best in Show was Vermont Butter & Creamery for its Bonne Bouche. Taking Third Place, or Second Runner-Up Best in Show was Farms for City Kids Foundation in Vermont, for its Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise.

All in all, it was a very good night for Wisconsin. I’m off to celebrate. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Pleasant Ridge Reserve Wins ACS

  1. Go Sconi!! I am from WI, but live in CA and everyone always says, “Well, Wisconsin used to be the dairy state, but now California is! Happy cows are from California. Blah, Blah…” HA! Wisconsin still beats most in artisan cheese!

  2. congratulations pleasant ridge! i LOVE their cheese, and got to meet the owners at a willy street co-op tasting once upon a time. they were such lovely people. what great news!

  3. This is so great. It makes me so happy to see Wisconsin proving itself on a national stage. Munching some Billy Blue – have to look up the award winning “smoked” version!

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