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Best of Class winners at the 2022 World Championship Cheese Contest

Lakin’s Gorges Cheese, a one-woman operation from Maine, is among the gold medal winners

The Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association has hosted the World Championship Cheese Contest biennially since 1957. From March 1-3 this year, a team of internationally renowned judges evaluated nearly 3,000 cheese, yogurt, butter, and whey entries in what is the largest technical dairy products evaluation in the world. Nine American cheeses made it into the Top 20 list, from which the winner, Gourmino Le Gruyère AOP, was chosen.  Gold, bronze, and silver medals were awarded in 141 classes, including, for the first time this year, cheese curds. And while large makers from the US and abroad took their fair share of Best in Class (Gold) medals, small cheesemakers put in an impressive showing.

Allison Lakin photographed by Greta Rybus

Particularly notable is the Best of Class for Flavored Soft-Ripened Cheeses awarded to Rockweed, a bloomy rind cheese with a faint green ribbon of seaweed in the center made by Allison Lakin of Lakin’s Gorges Cheese in Waldoboro, Maine. Lakin’s Gorges is a one-woman operation, located on a circa 1774 farm that extends to a cove on the tidal Medomak River. The creamery includes two caves for affinage, and Lakin has been building her herd of Jersey cows, anticipating becoming a farmstead operation this summer. 

The inspiration for Rockweed was the seaweed-covered shoreline near the farm. The seaweed center gives a gentle briny-ness to the cheese and plays off its creamy richness. “You’ve heard of terroir, the taste of the land—this is meroir, the taste of the sea,” Lakin says. 


Minus processed cheese, powdered whey, etc., here are all of the Best Of Class cheeses:

CHEDDAR, MILD (0 TO 3 MONTHS): Cabot Mild Cheddar, Team Cabot, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, VT 

CHEDDAR, MEDIUM (3 TO 6 MONTHS): White Cheddar, Southwest Cheese Team, Southwest Cheese, Clovis, NM

CHEDDAR, SHARP (6 MONTHS TO 1 YEAR), Sharp Cheddar, Juan Torres, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, ID

CHEDDAR, AGED ONE TO TWO YEARS: Aged Cheddar, Kiel Production Team. Land O Lakes, Inc., Kiel, WI

CHEDDAR, AGED TWO YEARS OR LONGER: Agropur Grand Cheddar, Agropur Fine Cheese Business Unit, Agropur, Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil, Quebec

TRADITIONAL WAXED CHEDDAR, MILD TO MEDIUM: Traditional Red Wax Cheddar Daisy, Renard’s Rosewood Dairy Team, Renard’s Rosewood Dairy, Inc., Algoma, WI

TRADITIONAL WAXED CHEDDAR, SHARP TO AGED: Bandage Cheddar Sharp, Brad Johnson, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, ID

NATURAL RINDED CHEDDAR: Flagship Reserve, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Seattle, WA

COLBY: Colby, Mirsad Zuko, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, ID


MARBLED CURD CHEESE: Original Recipe Colby Jack Deli, Team Arena, Arena Cheese, Arena, WI

BABY SWISS STYLE: 40# Baby Swiss, Richard Buss, Jr., Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, WI

RINDED SWISS STYLE: Gourmino Emmentaler AOP 2109-3499, Stefan Haldner, Village Dairy Sommeri, Gourmino AG, Langnau i.E., Bern, Switzerland

RINDLESS SWISS STYLE: Switzerland Swiss, Simmental Switzerland AG, Oey, Bern, Switzerland

MOZZARELLA: Whole Milk Mozzarella, Patrick Doell, Agropur, Luxemburg, WI

MOZZARELLA, PART SKIM: Part Skim Retail, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., Campbell, NY

FRESH MOZZARELLA: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, LLC, Waterloo, WI

BURRATA: Buffalo Milk Burrata, Alberto Sasson, Deca & Otto, Planeta Rica, Cordoba, Columbia

PROVOLONE, MILD: Patrick Doell, Agropur, Luxemburg, WI

PROVOLONE, AGED: BelGioioso Mandarini Aged Provolone, Kevin Benzel, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Denmark, WI

PROVOLONE, SMOKED: Smoked Mild Provolone, Cedar Valley 1st shift Team, Cedar Valley Cheese INC, Belgium, WI

STRING CHEESE: LMPS Culture String Cheese, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., Campbell, NY

APPENZELLER, AGED: Appenzeller® Extra-Würzig, Marcel Gabriel, 5118 Käserei Gabriel, Oberbüren, Switzerland

COTTAGE CHEESE: Prairie Farms 4% Small Curd Cottage Cheese , Prairie Farms Dairy, Quincy, IL

COTTAGE CHEESE, FLAVORED: 4% Good Culture Organic Strawberry Cottage Cheese, Team Westby, Westby Coop Creamery, Westby, WI

RICOTTA: Ricotta – Made With Whole Milk, Lactalis American Group, Inc., Buffalo, NY

ASIAGO, FRESH: BelGioioso Asiago Fresco, Mitch Borzych, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Denmark, WI

ASIAGO, AGED (OVER 6 MONTHS): Sartori Classic Asiago, Team Sartori, Sartori Cheese, Plymouth, WI

PARMESAN: Cello Parmesan, Lake Country Dairy, Schuman Cheese, Turtle Lake, WI

FETA: Odyssey Feta, Kristi Wuthrich, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, WI

FETA, FLAVORED: Odyssey Peppercorn Feta, Steve Webster, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, WI

BRICK & MUENSTER: Muenster, Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, WI

HAVARTI : Roth Creamy Havarti, Team Emmi Roth – Monroe, Emmi Roth, Monroe, WI

HAVARTI, FLAVORED: Dofino Havarti, Trace Peterson, Arla Foods, Kaukauna, WI

GORGONZOLA: BelGioioso CreamyGorg, Jeff Allen, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Denmark, WI

BLUE VEINED CHEESES: Grand Noir, Käserei Champignon, Champignon North America, Inc., Lauben, Bavaria, Germany

BLUE VEINED CHEESES WITH EXTERIOR MOLDING: Cambozola Black Label, Käserei Champignon, Champignon North America, Inc., Lauben, Bavaria, Germany

OPEN CLASS: CHEESES WITH BLUE MOLDING: Red Rock, Team Roelli, Roelli Cheese Co., Inc., Shullsburg, WI

GOUDA, YOUNG (LESS THAN 4 MONTHS): Old Amsterdam Mild Gouda, Old Amsterdam, Westland Kaasexport BV, Huizen, Noord Holland, Netherlands

GOUDA, MATURE (4-10 MONTHS): Beemster Royaal, Lieke Kortekaas, Beemster, Westbeemster, Netherlands

GOUDA, EXTRA AGED (OVER 10 MONTHS): Roemer Sweet , Team Van der Heiden Kaas, Van der Heiden Kaas B.V., Bodegraven, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

GOUDA, FLAVORED: Marieke Thorp Gouda, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, WI

GOUDA, SMOKED: Castello Smoked Cracked Pepper Gouda, Dave Newman, Arla Foods, Kaukauna, WI

BRIE: Cremeux Brie, Agnes Mailhac, Lactalis AOP, Raival, France

CAMEMBERT: Fonterra Research and Development Centre, Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand

OPEN CLASS: SOFT-RIPENED CHEESES: Harbison, Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro Bend, VT

OPEN CLASS: SOFT-RIPENED CHEESES, FLAVORED: Rockweed, Allison Lakin, Lakin’s Gorges Cheese, Waldoboro, ME

LATIN AMERICAN STYLE FRESH CHEESES: Panela/Nuestro Queso, Hispanic Cheese Makers-Nuestro Queso Team, Nuestro Queso, LLC, Kent, IL

LATIN AMERICAN STYLE MELTING CHEESES: Adobera Navarro, Quesos Navaro Team, Quesos Navarro, Tepatitlan, Jalisco, Mexico

LATIN AMERICAN STYLE HARD CHEESES: Cotija Cheese Wheel, Team V&V, V&V Supremo Foods, Chicago, IL

GRUYERE: Gourmino Le Gruyère AOP 2104-4035, Michael Spycher, mountain dairy Fritzenhaus, Gourmino AG, Langnau i.E., Bern, Switzerland

APPENZELLER: Appenzeller® Mild-Würzig, Hans Näf, 5104 Käserei Niederbüren AG, Niederbüren, Switzerland

OPEN CLASS: ALPINE CHEESES: Baldauf Allgäuer Bergkäse g.U., Team Baldauf, Gebr. Baldauf GmbH & Co. KG, Lindenberg, Bavaria, Germany

WASHED RIND/SMEAR RIPENED SOFT CHEESES: Akashobin, Masanori Matsubara, Mirasaka Fromage, Miyoshi-city, Hiroshima, Japan

WASHED RIND/SMEAR RIPENED SEMI-SOFT (SEMI-HARD) CHEESES, YOUNG (LESS THAN 4 MONTHS): Blüemli-Chäs, Franz Scheuber, Fläcke-Chäsi GmbH, Beromünster, Switzerland

WASHED RIND/SMEAR RIPENED SEMI-SOFT (SEMI-HARD), AGED CHEESES (OVER 4 MONTHS): Tête de Moine AOP, Fromages Spielhofer, Fromages Spielhofer SA, St-Imier, Berb, Switzerland

WASHED RIND/SMEAR RIPENED HARD CHEESES, MATURE (LESS THAN 9 MONTHS):  Erzherzog Johann, Othmar Pichler and Team, Obersteirische Molkerei eGen, Knittelfeld, Steiermark, Austria

WASHED RIND/SMEAR RIPENED HARD CHEESES, EXTRA AGED (OVER 9 MONTHS): Roth Grand Cru Surchoix Cheese Wheel, Team Emmi Roth – Monroe, Emmi Roth, Monroe, WI

WINE/SPIRITS WASHED RIND/SMEAR RIPENED CHEESES: Mont Vully Réserve, Käserei Schafer AG, Käserei Schafer AG, Cressier FR, Fribourg, Switzerland

PEPPER FLAVORED MONTEREY JACK, MILD HEAT: Pepper Jack, David Banza, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, ID

PEPPER FLAVORED MONTEREY JACK, MEDIUM HEAT: Cabot Pepper Jack Ch2, Team Chateaugay, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Chateaugay, NY

PEPPER FLAVORED MONTEREY JACK, HIGH HEAT: Ellsworth Habanero Ghost Pepper Jack Cheese, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery Comstock, Comstock, WI

OPEN CLASS: PEPPER FLAVORED CHEESE, MILD HEAT: Colby Jack Peppers, Heather Aspiasu, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, ID

OPEN CLASS: PEPPER FLAVORED CHEESE, MEDIUM HEAT: The Big Moo – Hoppin’ Jalapeno, Team Moo, Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin, Darlington, WI

OPEN CLASS: PEPPER FLAVORED CHEESE, HIGH HEAT: Red & Green Habanero Cheddar, Maryann Swinney, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, ID

OPEN CLASS: SOFT CHEESES: Bella Gento Mascarpone, Sonita Rass, Sorrento Lactalis Inc., Nampa, ID

OPEN CLASS: SEMI-SOFT CHEESES: Holland Master Cantenaar, Team Steenderen, Royal FrieslandCampina, Amersfoort, Netherlands

OPEN CLASS: HARD CHEESES: Beemster Royaal Grand Cru, Team Beemster, Beemster, Westbeemster, Netherlands

OPEN CLASS: SEMI-SOFT CHEESES WITH NATURAL RIND: Biocella, Brülisauer Käse AG, Künten, Switzerland

OPEN CLASS: HARD CHEESES WITH NATURAL RIND: St. Malachi, Team Doe Run, The Farm at Doe Run, Coatesville, PA

OPEN CLASS: SOFT CHEESES, FLAVORED: Madagascar Vanilla Crème Fraîche, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, VT

OPEN CLASS: SEMI-SOFT CHEESES, FLAVORED: TomaTruffle, Kuba Hemmerling & Team, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Petaluma, CA

OPEN CLASS: HARD CHEESES, FLAVORED: The Night Walker, Henning’s Cheese for Deer Creek, Deer Creek Cheese, Kiel, WI

OPEN CLASS: SMOKED SOFT AND SEMI-SOFT CHEESES: Bruschetta/Gilman Bruschetta, Shpoppy Shawn’s Shmoked Cheese, Wilkes Barre, PA

OPEN CLASS: SMOKED HARD CHEESES: Smoked Cheddar, Meister Team 4, Meister Cheese Company, Muscoda, WI

SPREADABLE NATURAL CHEESES: Kokka , Yukio Yamaguchi, IL FIORETTO, Suita-city, Osaka, Japan

SOFT GOAT’S MILK CHEESES: Spreadable Idyll Pastures, Team Idyll, Idyll farms, Northport, MI

SOFT GOAT’S MILK CHEESES, FLAVORED: Spreadable Idyll Pastures with Garlic and Herbs, Team Idyll, Idyll farms, Northport, MI

SOFT GOAT’S MILK CHEESES, FLAVORED WITH SWEET CONDIMENTS: Couturier Creamy Goat Cheese Vanilla 4 ounces, Hudson Valley Creamery, Hudson, NY

SEMI-SOFT (SEMI-HARD) GOAT’S MILK CHEESES: Mild Goat Cheese, Team Gerkesklooster, Royal FrieslandCampina, Amersfoort, Netherlands

SEMI-SOFT GOAT’S MILK CHEESES, FLAVORED: Hacienda Zorita Queso de Cabra al Tomillo, Gemma Cambero, Hacienda Zorita Farm Food, San Pelayo de Guareña, Salamanca, Spain

HARD GOAT’S MILK CHEESES: St Germain, Veronica Pedraza, Blakesville Creamery, Port Washington, WI

HARD GOAT’S MILK CHEESES, FLAVORED: Grupo Ganaderos de Fuerteventura S.L., Puerto del Rosario, Las Palmas, Spain

SOFT-RIPENED GOAT’S MILK CHEESES: Mt. Fuji, Masanori Matsubara, Mirasaka Fromage, Miyoshi-city, Hiroshima, Japan

WASHED RIND/ SMEAR RIPENED GOAT’S MILK CHEESES: Alte Geiss, Franz Scheuber, Fläcke-Chäsi GmbH, Beromünster, Switzerland

SOFT SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES: Brebicet Fromager d’Affinois, Guilloteau, Pelussin, Loire, France



HARD SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES, EXTRA AGED (OVER 6 MONTHS): Ocooch Reserve, Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, WI

SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES WITH BLUE MOLD: Le Bleu Societe, Franck Pons, Lactalis AOP, Roquefort, France

SURFACE (MOLD) RIPENED SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES: Los Cameros Cured Sheep Cheese, Lácteos Martínez S.L.U., Haro, La Rioja, Spain

WASHED RIND/ SMEAR RIPENED SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES: Arzberger Aurum, Franz Moestl & Team, Almenland Stollenkaese GmbH, 8162 Passail, Arzberg 32, Austria

SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES, FLAVORED: Hudson Flower, Murray’s Cheese, Long Island City, NY

SOFT & SEMI-SOFT MIXED MILK CHEESES: Kunik, Team Nettle Meadow, Nettle Meadow, Warrensburg, NY

MIXED MILK CHEESES, FLAVORED: Truffle Kunik, Team Nettle Meadow, Nettle Meadow, Warrensburg, NY

SURFACE (MOLD) RIPENED MIXED MILK CHEESES: Bamboozle, Goat Rodeo Team, Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy, Allison Park, PA

HARD MIXED MILK CHEESES (LESS THAN 6 MONTHS): Sagittarius, Team Shooting Star Creamery, Shooting Star Creamery, Paso Robles, CA

HARD MIXED MILK CHEESES (OVER 6 MONTHS): LaClare Creamery Cave Aged Chandoka, Robert Garves, LaClare Creamery, Malone, WI

OPEN CLASS: ALL OTHER MILK CHEESE: Hacienda Zorita Queso Con Leche Burra, Gemma Cambero, Hacienda Zorita Farm Food, San Pelayo de Guareña, Salamanca, Spain

CHEESE CURDS: Muenster Curd, Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, WI

CHEESE CURDS, FLAVORED: Ellsworth Hickory Bacon Cheese Curds, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, WI


Susan Axelrod

Susan Sherrill Axelrod is a former editor of Culture. Her love affair with cheese began at age 12, when she bicycled to a gourmet shop to taste an exotic newcomer—French brie. She lives with her partner in midcoast Maine, where she enjoys a well-made cocktail, hiking with their dog, Lucy, and spending as much time as possible on the water.

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