Cow's milk cheesemakers from California recently won 31 awards at the prestigious annual competition held by the American Cheese Society (ACS). Cheeses from California swept all awards in the American Originals cow's milk cheese category, a prized category that recognizes "uniquely American" cheeses.
The competition was held as part of the ACS annual conference, which was held July 20-24 in Louisville, Ky. This year, North American specialty and farmstead cheese producers entered a record-breaking 749 cheeses in the competition, which recognizes the finest cheeses produced in the United States.
California cow's milk cheeses won 8 first place, 12 second place and 11 third place awards in this year's judging. The 2005 results raise California's total to 149 awards in the cow's milk cheese categories over the past five years, more than any other state.
California first-place winners in the 2005 competition included Three Sisters Farmstead Cheese, Lindsay, for Bella Sorella; Cantare Foods, San Diego, for Mascarpone; Fiscalini Cheese Company, Modesto, for Cheddar and Cheddar with Sage; Belfiore Cheese Company, Berkeley, for Fresh Mozzarella; Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, Willows, for Jalapeno Cream Cheese; Mozzarella Fresca, Concord, for Marinated Mozzarella; and Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, for Cottage Cheese.
In all, 13 California cow's milk cheese producers won awards. Top winners included Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese with eight awards, Marin French Cheese Company with four awards, and Mozzarella Fresca and Fagundes Old World Cheese with three awards each.
California is the nation's leading dairy state and produced nearly 2 billion pounds of cheese in 2004. More than 250 varieties and styles of cheese are produced in California, and more than half of the state's cheesemakers are specialty or farmstead producers. For more information on California cheeses, visit www.RealCaliforniaCheese.com.