Jasper Hill cheeses have won multiple ribbons at the 2017 US Championship Cheese Contest, a biennial event that took place at Lambeau Field (home of the Green Bay Packers) in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This event is the largest cheese competition in the US, drawing entries from across the industry.
The competition was steep this year, with a record 2,303 entries of cheese, butter and yogurt, submitted by cheesemakers from 33 states, for a combined weight of 37,000 pounds. Wisconsin had the most entries by state, but Vermont was in the top five (alongside New York, California and Idaho). Forty eight judges oversaw the 101 categories.
In the Smear Ripened Soft Cheese category, the top four winners were Jasper Hill originals or Jasper Hill collaborations. Jasper Hill also took home a best of class award in the Brie & Camembert category as well as a best of class in Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheese.
For Smear Ripened Soft Cheese, the results were:
BEST OF CLASS: Willoughby, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.70
2nd AWARD: Greensward, Murray’s Cheese & Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.65
3rd AWARD: Oma, von Trapp Farmstead Cheese & Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.60
4th PLACE: Winnimere, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.40.
For Brie & Camembert, the results were:
BEST OF CLASS: Moses Sleeper, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.40. The Moses Sleeper also made the list for Top 20 Finalists.
For Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheese, the results were:
BEST OF CLASS: Harbison, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.75
More about the winning cheeses
Moses Sleeper is an approachable and nuanced brie-style cheese. Beneath its thin, bloomy rind lies a gooey, milky core showing a complex array of flavors at peak ripeness: cauliflower, crème fraîche, and toasted nuts. The cheese’s historic namesake, Moses Sleeper, and his compatriot, Constant Bliss, were Revolutionary War scouts killed while defending a blockhouse along the Northeast Kingdom’s legendary Bayley Hazen Military Road.
Winnimere is a take on Jura Mountain classics like Vacherin Mont d’Or or Fösterkäse. In keeping with this tradition, this decadent cheese is made only during winter months when Jasper Hill’s herd of Ayrshire cows are enjoying a rich ration of dry hay. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s flexible inner bark layer, harvested from Jasper Hill Farm’s woodlands. During aging, the cheese is washed in a cultured salt brine to help even rind development. At peak ripeness, this cheese is spoonably soft and tastes of bacon, sweet cream, and spruce.
Oma is an American original, made by Sebastian von Trapp on his family’s dairy farm in Waitsfield, Vermont. An approachable washed-rind, tomme-style cheese, Oma is made from the unpasteurized, organic milk of the von Trapp’s primarily Jersey breed cows. Oma balances pungent and sweet flavors with aromas of roasted nuts, cured meat and cultured butter. The paste is soft, almost pudding-like, but never runny. The thin, orange rind, often overlaid with white flora, is an earthy foil to the richness of the paste.
Harbison is named for Anne Harbison, affectionately known as the grandmother of Greensboro. Harbison is a soft-ripened cheese with a rustic, bloomy rind. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s inner bark layer, harvested from the woodlands of Jasper Hill. The spoonable texture begins to develop in the Jasper Hill vaults, though the paste continues to soften on the way to market. Harbison is woodsy and sweet, balanced with lemon, mustard, and vegetal flavors.
Greensward is made by Jasper Hill Creamery, using a Harbison-based recipe. Fresh cheeses are then shipped to the caves of Murray’s Cheese where they are ripened and packaged for sale.
Steve Millard, Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Operations for Murray’s Cheese, has been driving this collaborative effort since the cheese’s inception. “I have been truly blessed by the opportunity to visit Jasper Hill every couple months and reconnect with my friends to the north,” he said. “Our collaboration with Jasper Hill on Greensward started as a special project for 11 Madison [restaurant] and has grown into an award-winning cheese that is sold in our stores nationwide. In Greensward we have the perfect match of superb cheesemaking coupled with impassioned affinage, both born of a continuous desire to achieve and repeat perfection.”
All of Jasper Hill’s award winning cheeses can be purchased where fine cheeses are sold, at Jasper Hill’s retail counter within the newly constructed Boston Public Market, or from Jasper Hill Farm’s online store. Greensward is only available at select Murray’s Cheese locations.