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Vermont cheese makers earn top honors nationally, internationally

MONTPELIER — In recent weeks, Vermont cheese makers were recognized in two of the most prestigious cheese competitions in the world: The 2007 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Milwaukee, WI, and the World Cheese Awards in London, England.

In the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company of Websterville collected three awards: "Best of Class" for soft goats' milk cheese for its Vermont Fresh Crottin; “Best of Class” for semi-soft goats’ milk cheese for its Bonne Bouche; and, a second place for its Vermont Chevre.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative won a "Best of Class" award for a medium Vermont cheddar cheese and second place in the reduced fat and low-fat cheese category for its Vermont Jalapeño Reduced Fat Cheddar. Saputo Cheese of Hinesburg garnered third place for its part-skim mozzarella, and Franklin Foods of Enosburg Falls took third place in the reduced fat and low-fat cheese category for its Hahn’s Strawberries and Cream Yogurt and Cream Cheese Spread.

In 2006, Franklin Foods was awarded a U.S. Patent for developing a process to make yogurt and cream cheese products. The patented process allows low fat yogurt to retain its live and active cultures and is the only product of its kind.

The Vermont Butter and Cheese Company also took top honors at the 2007 World Cheese Awards, where it earned a Gold Medal for soft goats' milk cheese (plain) for its Vermont Chevre and a Silver Medal for Vermont Creamy Goat Cheese. Cabot Creamery won Silver Awards for both its five-year-old Cabot Old School Cheddar and Cabot Vintage Choice Cheddar.

Vermont officials were pleased with the awards, noting that Vermont cheese sells $700 million a year.

“Vermont’s reputation as a premier producer of artisan cheese is growing,” said Roger Allbee, Vermont’s agriculture secretary. “This recognition for cheese makers in Vermont is important in terms of the emerging culinary tourism industry in our state.”

The national and international recognition is good for business. Wendy Brewer, Marketing Director for Grafton Village Cheese commented that after winning in these competitions in previous years, they experienced a higher level of recognition from retailers and other members of the market place.

Vermont will be the focus of the cheese world this August when the American Cheese Society celebrates its silver anniversary and 24th annual competition in Burlington.

Planning is underway to welcome hundreds of “turophiles” (cheese lovers).

“During this week-long event, we are thrilled to be able to showcase Vermont’s farms and cheese making heritage to industry professionals from all over the world,” said Jonathon Wright, of Taylor Farm, and president of the Vermont Cheese Council.

The Vermont Cheese Council, whose goal is to advance the production and image of premier cheeses from Vermont, is a non-profit trade organization of more than three dozen Vermont cheese makers.

Posted April 16, 2007

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