MADISON, WI - In no surprise, Wisconsin has done it again, proving to the world that they are the undisputed champions of cheese! At the 2023 American Cheese Society (ACS) Judging and Competition in Des Moines, Iowa, 25 Wisconsin cow cheese and dairy companies were crowned with honors, showcasing the state's prowess in dairy delights.
"It's excellent to see Wisconsin dairy products shine on the ACS stage," gushes Chad Vincent, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. "The awards are a testament to Wisconsin's 180-year cheesemaking heritage and the innovation of our incredible cheesemakers."
And shine, they did! Wisconsin makers gleefully carted off more than one-fourth of all medals at ACS, leaving other states green with envy. To put it in cheesy terms, that's twice the awards won by the next closest competing state! The state's cow-dairy product artisans waltzed away with a delightful haul of 27 first-place awards, 28 second-place awards, and 31 third-place awards. Not to mention, they even pulled off a "clean sweep" in 8 categories by claiming the top three spots!
In a cheesy twist of fate, the prestigious Third Best of Show title was bestowed upon Pleasant Ridge Reserve, crafted by the folks at Uplands Cheese. As America's most-awarded cheese, and proudly Wisconsin-made, it's no surprise that this farmstead-crafted alpine-style cheese tantalized the taste buds of the esteemed judges. Made exclusively from May through October, when cows are munching on fresh pasture, it imparts a sweetness born from grass-fed milk, all hugged by the cheese's natural, washed rind. Now, who wouldn't be 'udderly' thrilled by that?
But wait, there's more! Among the all-star roster of Proudly Wisconsin Cheese and Dairy companies were Klondike Cheese Company of Monroe with 19 awards, BelGioioso Cheese Inc. of Green Bay with 9 awards, and Widmer's Cheese Cellars of Theresa with 8 awards. Joining the dairy dream team were Marieke Gouda of Thorp with 7 awards, Nasonville Dairy, Inc. of Marshfield with 6 awards, and Schuman Cheese of Turtle Lake with 5 awards. As if that wasn't enough, the following companies each received 3 awards: Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery of Ellsworth, Pine River Pre-Pack of Newton, and Uplands Cheese of Dodgeville. With such an impressive lineup, it's clear that Wisconsin is the crème de la crème of cheese producers!
The 2023 ACS competition was a colossal cheese extravaganza, featuring a whopping 1,454 entries across 131 categories from 195 companies. It was a true feast for the senses, celebrating cheeses and cultured dairy products that achieved technical excellence and exhibited the highest aesthetic qualities.
It's no secret that Wisconsin is the big cheese when it comes to crafting specialty cheese. The state proudly churns out 50% of the nation's specialty cheese, earning it a well-deserved spot on every cheese lover's map. So, if you're seeking some of the country's best dairy delights, simply follow your taste buds and look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese® badge – a badge of honor that guarantees a slice of cheese heaven.
Wisconsin's cheesemaking legacy is truly legendary, dating back over 180 years, even before the state officially came into existence. With 1,200 cheesemakers, many of whom are third- and fourth-generation artisans, Wisconsin keeps its cheesy traditions alive while embracing modern innovations in cheesemaking craftsmanship.
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, a non-profit organization fueled by the passion of Wisconsin dairy farmers, plays a crucial role in spreading the word about the state's world-class dairy products. Their dedication, combined with the creativity and hard work of cheesemakers, continues to bring joy and delight to cheese enthusiasts worldwide.
So, here's to Wisconsin – the cheese champions of the world! May their dairy delights continue to make us all say, "Cheese!" and bring smiles to cheeseboards everywhere.