California Makers Recognized by American Cheese Society

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Cow's milk cheesemakers from California swept the awards in the homegrown cow's milk cheese category at the prestigious annual competition held by the American Cheese Society (ACS) here.

Cheeses from the Golden State took 31 awards in the American Originals grouping, a prized category that recognizes "uniquely American" cheeses. Over the past five years, California producers have received more awards than any other state in the competitive cow's milk cheese categories.

The competition was part of the ACS annual conference, held last week. 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 eight first place, 12 second place and 11 third place awards. The 2005 results raise California's total to 149 awards in the cow's milk cheese categories over the past five years.

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.

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.

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