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Wisconsin's Little Mountain Wins Big at 2016 American Cheese Society Competition

Aug 01, 2016
America's Dairyland Dominates Awards for Twelfth Consecutive Year

MADISON, Wis. – Roelli Cheese Company, Inc. of Shullsburg, Wisconsin, took top honors at the 2016 American Cheese Society (ACS) Competition in Des Moines, Iowa, this past weekend. The company's Little Mountain cheese was named Best of Show at the annual awards ceremony, often called "The Oscars of Cheese." It was one of 107 ribbons for America's Dairyland, which captured more awards than any other state for the twelfth consecutive year.

Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Chris Roelli accepted the Best of Show award – the culmination of a decade-long commitment to artisan cheesemaking. Created in partnership with the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin, Little Mountain is a washed rind alpine cheese made with raw cow's milk in the appenzeller style. It is aged 6 months and has a smooth, nutty flavor. Roelli also produces award-winning Dunbarton Blue and Red Rock cheeses.

Also taking home a big ACS win was Jeffs' Select Gouda, which tied for third place Best of Show. The cheese is the result of a unique partnership between two Jeffs. It's made by Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Jeff Wideman of Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Inc. in Monroe, Wisconsin, and aged by Jeff Jirik in Minnesota's Caves of Faribault.

In all, Wisconsin cheesemakers, along with the state's butter and yogurt makers, claimed 28 percent of all awards bestowed at this year's ACS competition, including 29 first place ribbons, 32 second place and 44 third place. With these wins, Wisconsin cheesemakers swept five categories: Brick Cheese – Cow's Milk; Cheese Curds – All Milk; Colby Cheese – All Milk; Flavored Cheeses – International-Style with Flavor Added; and Flavored Cheeses – Feta Cheese with Flavor Added. Wisconsin cheesemakers also dominated the awards for cow's milk cheeses, winning 36 percent of all awards with 86 total ribbons.

Twenty-eight Wisconsin companies received one or more awards at the competition, and several Wisconsin cheesemakers had outstanding performances, including Klondike Cheese Co. winning 10 ribbons, Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Inc. with nine ribbons, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Emmi Roth USA, Lactalis American Group and Montchevre-Betin, each winning six ribbons, and Saxon Cheese and Saputo Specialty Cheese each winning five ribbons. 

The 2016 competition included 1,843 entries from over 250 companies. To view the full list of Wisconsin awards, visit Photos are available upon request.

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About Roelli Cheese Company

In 2006, fourth-generation cheesemaker, Chris Roelli, reopened his family's cheese factory (which had closed in 1991) with a bold vision to go small. Roelli redesigned the factory making it 11 times smaller than the original to shift its focus to artisan cheeses, creating an operation for one cheesemaker to handcraft small batches of cheese. His first introduction, a blue-veined cheddar called Dunbarton Blue, was met with rave reviews and continues to be a favorite among chefs, cheesemongers and cheese enthusiasts.

Roelli is among a growing group of Wisconsin cheesemakers making strides in modern affinage, or cheese aging. In 2012, he built his own affinage center, Roelli Aging Cellars, designing each of the three curing rooms specifically for a particular cheese – Dunbarton Blue, Red Rock (another cheddar blue), and a new cheese, Little Mountain. In July 2016, Little Mountain was named Best of Show at the American Cheese Society Competition in Des Moines, Iowa.
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About Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin: Funded by Wisconsin dairy farmers, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that focuses on marketing and promoting Wisconsin’s world-class dairy products. For more information, visit our website at

Contact Info
Abby Despins
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
8418 Excelsior Dr.
Madison, WI 53717