The U.S. Championship Cheese Contest doesn’t hand out tiaras, sashes, or bouquets of flowers, but they should! It’s a contest that blows Miss America out of the water by bringing together the best in the industry for a veritable cheese pageant. This year, it’s time for Guggisberg Cheese to break out the waterproof mascara, because the cheesemaker was just crowned best cheese in the United States. The win is the company’s second overall championship title at the prestigious contest in just four years.
Guggisberg Cheese’s winning Baby Swiss Wheel, crafted by Team Guggisberg Doughty Valley in Millersburg, OH, earned a near perfect score of 98.54 out of 100. No stranger to the win, the company’s Premium Swiss, a traditional-style wheel, earned Guggisberg top honors at the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
“Guggisberg Cheese has found a recipe for success with Swiss cheeses, and our distinguished judges were impressed with the quality of the company’s Baby Swiss entry this year,” said John Umhoefer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, the contest host organization. “We congratulate Guggisberg Cheese, as we salute all the cheesemakers who earned medals in the competition.”
The first and second runner-up positions this year were nabbed by Marieke Gouda of Thorp, WI. The company’s Gouda Premium cheese, a gouda variety aged for 18-24 months, came in just one-tenth of a point behind the Champion Cheese (98.41). Marieke Gouda Overjarige earned a score of 98.39. Marieke Penterman, Cheesemaker of Marieke Gouda, is a perennial contender in the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, having won the 2013 competition.
The U.S. Championship Cheese Contest has been held biennially since 1981, and is the largest technical cheese, butter, yogurt, and dry dairy products competition in the country, according to the press release. This year set records with 2,555 cheese entries from across 35 different states being evaluated over the two-day competition. A group of 60 nationally-renowned judges from 20 states considered each entry’s flavor, finish, body and texture, salt, and appearance, scoring the entries on a 100-point scale.
The 2019 competition was dominated by Wisconsin cheesemakers, who earned gold medals in 60 of the 116 contest classes and sweeping the gold, silver, and bronze medals in 25 classes. Cheesemakers from New York earned nine gold medals, with those in California and Idaho earning six each. Gold medals also went to dairy processors in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.
For more information about the contest, including a complete list of winners, visit USChampionCheese.org