An international panel of expert judges may have named a Swiss Gruyere as the 2008 World Championship Cheese today, but Wisconsin cheesemakers still captured 27 of 77 gold medals during the three-day contest.
Cheesemaker Michael Spycher, of Kaserei Fritzenhaus in Wasen, Switzerland, took top honors out of 1,941 entries from 19 countries for his Le Gruyere Switzerland. First runner-up was a Gorgonzola made by CERPL Cheesemakers in Italy, while second runner-up went to an Emmentaler made by Bernhard Naf, of Guntershausen, Switzerland.
Overall, U.S. cheesemakers dominated the competition, earning gold medals in 46 of the total 77 categories judged, including golds in both butter classes and in the retail packaging class. Netherlands came in second among the countries, with eight golds; Denmark had six; Canada had four and Switzerland took three. Austria, Australia and Spain all won two gold medals, while Sweden, Italy, France and South Africa each captured one apiece.
Among U.S. states, Wisconsin dominated with 27 gold medals, while New York took five golds, California and Idaho each took three, Iowa two, and Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island each earned one gold medal.
The Wisconsin gold medal winner list reads like a who's who of Wisconsin cheesemakers with everyone from big plants such as Foremost and Land O' Lakes to tiny Hidden Springs Creamery, a farmstead sheep's milk dairy near Westby, capturing gold medals. We even won the Unsalted Butter category, with Graf Creamery, of Zachow, Wis. taking first. Whoo-hoo!
So while we Wisconsinites are forced to chalk up one more year of not winning the World Championship, there's always 2010. Until then, we'll be happy with our buckets of gold medals and good cheese.