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Sartori Takes Top Honors at 2017 US Championship Cheese Contest

Sartori Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski

Meet America’s best cheese: Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, crafted by Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski.

The flavored hard cheese was crowned “Grand Champion” of the 2017 US Championship Cheese Contest last night, receiving a score of 99.018 out of 100. 

“To win the title of Grand Champion, when we know perfectly well how many talented cheeses were in the competition, makes me proud of all of our incredibly hard-working Team Members,” said Sartori CEO Jim Sartori in a press release.

The contest’s host state, Wisconsin, had an impressive showing, with its cheesemakers sweeping the top three honors. An aged cheddar by Agropur Master Cheesemaker Terry Lensmire was named first runner-up (score of 98.813), while the Marieke Gouda Belegen by the Marieke Gouda Team finished as second runner-up (score of 98.593). Fourteen of the 20 “Grand Champion” finalists hailed from the Badger State. 

This is Sartori’s second win in the competition’s 36-year history. The Plymouth, Wis.-based producer last won in 2009 with cheesemaker John Griffiths and his SarVecchio Parmesan. Founded in 1939, Sartori is a fourth-generation family-owned business known for its hard and Italian-style cheeses.

The United States Championship Cheese Contest is hosted biennially and is considered the largest technical contest for cheese, butter, and yogurt in the country. This year, it attracted a record 2,303 entries from 33 states for 104 categories.

For a complete list of finalists and top three winners in every category, click here

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists!

Feature Photo Courtesy of Sartori Cheese

Alyssa Kim

Alyssa is culture's former Web Editor. Raised in Mass., she's excited to be back in her home state after six years of working in journalism and TV production in NYC.