Northeast Wisconsin cheese takes second place at U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

It took two days of judging to determine a winner
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 5:06 PM CST
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ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) - On Thursday, February 23, a head cheese was crowned at the 2023 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

With a score of 98.739 out of 100, the Aged Gouda cheese called Europa won. It was made by the team at Arethusa Farm Dairy in Bantam, Connecticut.

“I am originally from Wisconsin,” Head Cheesemaker Eric Schmid said. “I’m a southern Wisconsin boy moving out here to Connecticut to help make some really great cheese so I am very proud to be involved with Arethusa Farm Dairy.”

Schmid is from Monticello, Wisconsin, and moved to Connecticut a year ago to work at Arethusa Farm Dairy. He said the secret to the best cheese is time.

“This is a great honor to have,” Schmid said. “I duly appreciate everyone who has entered this competition and all cheese contests too. It’s a great thing we got going on.”

The first runner-up, with a score of 98.613, was a hard raw milk cheese called Vintage Cupola American Orginal Cheese. It was made by Door Artisan Cheese Company in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, for Red Barn Family Farms in Appleton, Wisconsin.

“We are just so grateful and so humbled to win this award today (Thursday) and I would just like to acknowledge our small family farmers that work so hard to get us the best milk for our cheeses,” Co-Owner of Red Barn Family Farms Paula Homan said. “Also thank you to our cheese maker at Door Artisan Cheese Company for all their hard work for helping us create this wonderful cheese.”

The second runner-up was awarded to a Medium Cheddar made by Dillon Sylla for Associated Milk Producers Inc. of Blair, Wisconsin, with a score of 98.554 out of 100.

Out of 113 classes, Wisconsin earned gold medals in 54 classes. Dairy manufacturers from California took home nine golds, and Idaho finished third in the ranking with eight Best of Class awards.

The top three finishers for each entry class were announced on Tuesday and Wednesday following preliminary judging rounds. The Top 20 cheeses were released on Wednesday to move on to the Championship Round of judging. Due to the winter storm, the Championship Round of judging also took place Wednesday rather than Thursday to avoid the snow.

All 20 finalists joined in via live stream where the winner was announced.