Area cheesemakers win top honors in annual competition

Three local cheese companies walked away with a combined total of eleven ribbons at the 2013 American Cheese Society annual conference and competition held in Madison August 1 - 4. 257 cheese companies from the United States and Canada submitted 1,794 different dairy products for this year’s competition, making it the largest in ACS history. 37 judges from around the world evaluated the entries based on their aesthetic and technical merits, recognizing the cheeses with the highest overall combination of beauty, desirability, flavor, and texture.

The Artisan Cheese Exchange of Sheboygan swept the Cheddar category winning five ribbons for their Deer Creek family of cheeses including three first place ribbons for The Stag, The Fawn and Deer Creek Proprietor’s Grand Reserve 7 Year.

Winning in the Aged Cheddar Over 12 And Up To 24 Months category, The Stag, a traditional 22 pound, bandaged wrapped daisy Cheddar, is handcrafted for The Artisan Cheese Exchange by Master Cheese Maker Kerry Henning of Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese in Kiel.

Henning is the Master Cheese Maker for another one of The Artisan Cheese Exchange first place winners, The Fawn. The Fawn, another traditional 22 pound daisy Cheddar, took the blue ribbon in the Cheddar Aged Up To 12 Months category.

“We feel that the success of these two handcrafted cheeses is a result of Kerry’s expert cheese making skills in combination with the signature flavor profile of our award winning Deer Creek Vat 17 World Cheddar which we developed in partnership with Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese (WAG). Without the expertise, knowledge and dedication to excellence of everyone at Henning and WAG, these cheeses would not have stood a chance against the fierce competition in the Cheddar category,” said Chris Gentine owner of The Artisan Cheese Exchange.

Another Artisan Cheese Exchange Cheddar, Deer Creek Reserve Double A Grade 3 Year, was awarded the third place ribbon in the Mature Cheddar Aged Over 24 And Up To 48 Months while Deer Creek Private Reserve 5 Year won second place in the Mature Cheddar Aged Over 48 Months. “The Deer Creek 3, 5 and 7 Year Cheddars are really the result of expert cheese grading and aging where we again partner with WAG.” A licensed cheese grader himself, Gentine works closely with Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese to grade and evaluate countless vats of cheese to select those that fit the superior quality and specific flavor profile of Deer Creek Cheddars. “We’re thrilled,” said Gentine. “The success of the Deer Creek family of cheeses is the result of long hours and hard work by a highly skilled team of cheese makers, affinage experts and licensed cheese graders.”

Sartori Cheese of Plymouth also walked away with five ribbons for their handcrafted Italian style cheeses. Sartori Reserve Extra-Aged Asiago and Sartori Reserve Extra- Aged Fontina took second and third place respectively in the Italian Type Cheeses Grading Types category. Sartori Limited Edition Extra-Aged Goat won second place for Goat’s Milk Cheese Aged Over 60 Days. A third place ribbon was awarded to both Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano in the Flavored Cheeses Open Category and Sartori Limited Edition Cannella BellaVitano with its special note of cinnamon in the Marinated Cheeses Open Category.

Award winning goat cheese maker, LaClare Farms Specialties of Chilton, was awarded the third place ribbon in the Goat’s Milk Cheese Aged Over 60 Days category for Evalon, a Gouda style cheese with a hint of Italian Asiago flavor and texture.

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