WORLD CHAMPION CHEESE 2019
It's official — Rogue Creamery's blue cheese is the best in the world.
A truly global cheese event, the World Cheese Awards has been bringing together cheesemakers, retailers, buyers, consumers and food commentators worldwide for over three decades. Rogue Creamery has been winning awards for years now, but this year it made history. At the 2019 World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy, the creamery's Rogue River Blue cheese took home the title of "World Champion Cheese" — and it is the first time that an American cheesemaker has won the title, besting 3,800 of the world's finest cheeses from 42 countries on 6 continents.
Norway won last year. Britain won the year before that. But it was a blue cheese from the United States that recently won the top prize at this year’s.
Cathy Strange from Whole Foods Market accepted the award on behalf of Rogue Creamery, but not before giving a call to David Gremmels, Rogue Creamery's proverbial "Big Cheese," to share the news.
David Gremmels, president of Rogue Creamery who is also known as “Mr. Blue,” said web traffic and sales were up 500 percent since the award was announced. Foreign sellers, like Neal’s Yard Dairy and La Fromagerie in London, have increased orders too. And Rogue Creamery has seen new orders from cheese sellers in Spain and the Netherlands.
Rogue Creamery's cheesemaking roots date back to the 1930s when Tom Vella, founder of the Vella Cheese Factory in Sonoma, California, opened a creamery in Southern Oregon in the middle of the depression. The creamery created a wealth of jobs for the area, and soon came to focus almost exclusively on making blue cheese. In the early 2000s, Tom's son, Ig, sold Rogue Creamery to David Gremmels and Cary Bryant, who continue to uphold the practices and principles of artisan cheesemaking as set out by the Vellas.
Rogue River Blue is made only during autumn, when the cow's rich milk lends itself best to making this exquisite cheese. This cheese is wrapped in grape leaves that have been soaked in pear brandy. The blue veining lends hints of hazelnuts and fruit, and the paste becomes slightly crystallized as it ages. Rogue River Blue gained international recognition in 2003, when it bested European titans such as Roquefort and Stilton at the World Cheese Awards in London. Though now made from pasteurized milk, it later became the first American raw milk cheese to be exported to Europe.