2009 ACS Best of Show First Place - Rogue Creamery
It’s official: the world of American artisanal cheese has a new reigning king. Winning Best of Show out of 1,327 cheeses at the 2009 American Cheese Society (ACS) annual competition is Rogue River Blue, crafted by co-owners David Gremmels and Cary Bryant at Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon.
Made seasonally from autumn through early winter from the raw milk of grass-fed cows, Rogue River Blue is as special as it is delicious, with flavors of sweet woodsy pine, wild berries, hazelnuts, morels, and pears. Matured for a year in the creamery’s original aging rooms, constructed by founder Tom Vella in 1956 to simulate the ancient caves in Roquefort, France, the cheese reflects the Rogue River Valley’s terroir. Its beautiful natural rind is the result of hand turning and tending the cheese several times a week.
Rogue Creamery’s owners hand wrap each wheel in grape leaves harvested from nearby Carpenter Hill Vineyards. The leaves are soaked in Clear Creek’s Pear Brandy and tied with raffia. Bryant and Gremmels say the grape leaves add complexity to the flavors of the cheese and preserve its moist, creamy texture. “This is one of our favorite cheeses to make because it’s seasonal and represents the Rogue River Valley so well,” says Bryant. “We’re thrilled and truly honored our cheese was selected as Best of Show,” adds Gremmels.
The 2009 ACS Best of Show award is the latest in a long line of accolades for Rogue River since Gremmels and Bryant bought the creamery in 2002. Rogue Creamery won the World’s Best Blue Cheese at the World Cheese Awards in London in 2003, a first for an American creamery, and went on to win the coveted Best New Product in the World for its Smokey Blue at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Food Show in New York in 2006. Rogue Creamery was also the first American cheesemaker to export raw-milk cheeses to the European Union, and was honored as the first U.S. maker featured at the prestigious Cheese Festival in Bra, Italy.
Bryant and Gremmels remain dedicated to producing classic and original blue and cheddar cheeses in the finest tradition of artisanal cheesemakers, using the highest-quality milk and other ingredients. In fact, the company offers the only vertically integrated, third-party certified, sustainable cheese in the United States, as its dairy, Rogue View, and creamery, Rogue Creamery, are both certified by Food Alliance. “We have an amazing team of people dedicated to sustainability and the art and tradition of making the world’s finest handmade cheese,” Bryant says. “We love making cheese. It’s that simple.”