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MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin cheeses dominated the competition at the recent inaugural American Cheesemaker Awards in Newport Beach, Cal., winning eight top honors in the 11 event categories.
The competition was the culminating event OF a four-day celebration of artisan cheesemaking in America, the first of its kind, spearheaded by globally noted Chef Azmin Ghahreman who owns Sapphire Laguna restaurant and Sapphire Pantry, a specialty food store, in Laguna Beach, Cal.
More than 75 artisan cheeses from states that included California, Washington, and Idaho competed. A panel of media food writers, chefs, cheese retailers, consultants, and other cheese industry professionals judged them.
The Wisconsin awards winners were:
Best Blue -- Sartori Reserve Dolcina Gorgonzola, Sartori Artisan Foods, Plymouth.
Best Washed Rind Cow's Milk -- Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville.
Best Uniquely American Cheese -- Sartori Reserve Bellavitano, Sartori Artisan Foods.
Best Fresh Goat Cheese -- MontchevrÈ Fresh & Natural Goat Cheese, MontchevrÈ-Betin, Belmont.
Best Goat Cheese Aged 1 to 2 Months -- La Cabrie, MontchevrÈ-Betin
Best Goat Cheese Aged 6 Months & Longer -- Aged Cardona, Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle.
Best Sheep Milk Cheese -- Virgin Pine Native Blue, Carr Valley.
Additionally, Sartori Artisan Foods claimed the People's Choice Cheesemaker honors, an award voted on by event attendees.
In addition to the awards contest, the event featured educational sessions for the public and trade professionals, cheese tastings and a gala dinner.