California State Fair announces cheese champions

California State Fair

The 2019 Cheese Competition Awards have been officially announced

Out of 126 cheese entries from producers throughout the state, the best two cheeses in California have been named.



The Best of Show Cheese – Cow’s Milk has once again been awarded to Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company for their Aged Gouda, a classic Dutch style Gouda aged 24 months. This is their second year in a row winning the Best of Show honor for their Gouda, and their fourth year in a row winning Best of Show for Cow’s Milk.

The Best of Show Cheese – Other Milk Type goes to Laura Chenel for their Ash Rind Buchette. This is the producer’s first time winning Best of Show! Their Ash Rind Buchette is made with vegetable ash and geotrichum, giving the cheese its distinctive color, texture, and rind.

The 20 California cheese companies who entered the competition range from small artisan producers to large-scale cheese production companies. Cheese judges are selected from respected cheese merchants, writers, promoters, and educators. The cheeses are entered by Division and Class and evaluated for appearance, aroma, texture and taste.

This year, a panel of 12 official judges, and one special guest judge, tasted and evaluated all 126 California cheeses at Cal Expo on May 8, 2019. In case you’re wondering, the special guest judge was 18 year old Julissa Nord who has been making cheese for the last 7 years. As a Guest Judge, Nord was able to see the evaluation side of the cheese making process and how judge’s comment on the appearance, aroma, texture & body, and flavor of cheese.



Other interesting facts about this year’s guest judge: Nord got her start in 4-H when she and a group of other dairy goat members took a class on how to make a simple Chevre. From there it spiraled into an interest of learning how to make various types of cheese from goat’s milk. Nord is also no stranger to the California State Fair. In 2017 and 2018 she competed in the Dairy Goat show and earned many awards! She works at Lariat Ranch who raises Oberhasli dairy goats, turkeys, and chickens. From this competition, Julissa made some new friends and contacts that will help her continue on with her love of cheese.

You can find a complete list of the award-winning cheeses at

The California State Fair will recognize Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and Laura Chenel at a special press event on the steps of State Capitol on June 27, 2019. Later that evening, the winning producers will be invited to sample their cheeses at the Best of California Tasting Reception at Cal Expo held prior to the California State Fair Gala, benefiting The Friends of the CA State Fair. You can buy tickets for the Gala and The Best of California Tasting Event at

The Commercial Cheese Competition winners will also be presenting during the CA State Fair Taste of California Experience Classes, July 12th – 28th. Fair guests can learn how to taste, pair, and use the best California cheeses during these classes taught by experts. Registration for these classes will begin soon.

For more information and interview requests, please contact: CA State Fair Media Center: (916) 263-3108

About the California State Fair
The California State Fair is an international award-winning fair, receiving top honors at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions out of more than 1,100 fairs world-wide. The California State Fair is dedicated as a place to celebrate the best the state has to offer in agriculture, technology and the diversity of its people, traditions and trends that shape the Golden State’s future. We invite you to join us for the 166th California State Fair, July 12 – 28, 2019.

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