USA cheese named ‘Best in the World’

The coveted honor won by Rogue Creamery is a first for a U.S. cheesemaker and a boost for the U.S. dairy industry. Overall, the U.S. won 131 medals, the most ever.

For the first time ever, a cheese from the United States has been judged “Best in the World” at the World Cheese Awards.
A panel of 260 judges from 25 countries ranked Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue No. 1 on Friday in Bergamo, Italy. There were 3,804 entries.

“I am humbled and filled with gratitude,” said David Gremmels, president of Rogue Creamery, which also won the Best USA Cow’s Milk Cheese trophy sponsored by the U.S. Dairy Export Council’s USA Cheese Guild™.

U.S. cheeses had their best overall showing to date, winning 131 honors including seven Super Gold, 17 Gold, 40 Silver and 67 Bronze medals. The results validate the growing reputation of high-quality U.S. specialty cheeses.



Award enhances reputation of all U.S. cheeses
Last year, the U.S. exported more cheese by volume than any single country. Cheese exports are up again so far this year and the award provides further momentum for increasing the volume and the value U.S. cheese exports.
“This is more than a win for Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon,” said U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack in a letter to USDEC members. “The `Best Cheese’ title creates a halo effect that will cause global customers to look at all U.S. cheeses in a brighter light.”

Rogue River Blue, along with other American cheeses like Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Harbison, can now be found in fine cheese shops and restaurants in Europe, the UK, Australia, Japan and around the globe.

“This shows how one small cheesemaker can make all the difference in the world to create that visibility we need on a global basis,” said Pete Kent, executive director of the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

Kent praised Rogue Creamery for its “collaborative approach” to cheesemaking, partnering with the Oregon Dairy and Nutritional Council, USDEC and other dairy organizations.

Kent also pointed out that getting judged the world’s No. 1 cheese did not happen overnight. Rogue Creamery has been entering and placing in international cheese competitions since 2003, when it won third place in the Blue Cheese category at the World Dairy Expo Championship.

Each award is carefully documented on the Rogue Creamery website.

“I share this honor with my dedicated team at Rogue Creamery, our organic herd of Brown Swiss and Holstein cows and truly appreciate our customers and partnership with Savencia supporting Rogue Creamery’s organic and b-corporation values,” said Gremmels.

Main criterion: Taste

While the rind and the body of the cheese, its color, texture and consistency were all considered, the ultimate judging criteria at the World Cheese Awards is taste.

According to the creamery’s website, Rogue River Blue is cave-aged nine to 11 months and hand-wrapped in Syrah grape leaves that have soaked in pear liqueur. It’s known to exhibit flavors of blackberry, vanilla, hazelnut and bacon.

“Over hundreds of years, U.S. cheesemakers have quietly formed their exceptional artisanship from a melting pot of cultures to deliver innovation, variety and versatility to fit any global cuisine,” said Angélique Hollister, executive director of the USA Cheese Guild™. “With continuing award recognition and broadened distribution, markets worldwide are discovering the quality of U.S. cheese.”



USDEC long-term cheese strategy

USDEC’s new USA Cheese Guild™ is the face of a long-term strategy to enhance awareness and perception of U.S. cheese in key export markets. The Guild manages multi-faceted programs that focus on highlighting U.S. added-value cheese products. These include the USA Cheese Specialist™ Certification Program, which trains culinary and retail professionals around the world on the attributes of U.S. cheese.

“The United States is exporting more cheese in 2019 because the world is finding out what we already know — the United States makes great cheese,” said Vilsack. “We can now cite the most prestigious international cheese competition to proclaim that the U.S. makes the world’s best cheese.

“This validating fact helps us increase the overall value of what we sell. Thanks to Rogue Creamery, an American cheesemaker has crafted the `Best Cheese in the World,’ lifting the spirits of an entire industry that is competing to win.”

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