Rogue River Blue Takes the Crown
One of the cheeses that customers request most by name is Rogue River Blue, a blue cheese from Rogue Creamery in Oregon that is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves and washed in pear liqueur. It is a seasonal cheese because they only make it in the fall when the milk is at its peak, fatty and sweet. Thus, we have this wonderful piece of dairy magic in our case from October through (hopefully) December. This year, the creamy, cow’s milk blue came with extra fanfare since the cheese clinched the top prize, World Champion, at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy. It is the first American cheese to ever win this award, competing against 3,804 cheeses from all over the world! Usually, European cheesemakers win with classics like Gruyere, Epoisses, and Cheddar, and the rest of the top 16 winners this year (don’t know why it’s the top 16, but maybe it’s like the Sweet 16 in basketball? Is that the most American thing I’ve ever written?) followed that trend.
Awards can be tricky things – is the judging fair? Is there funding coming from somewhere inappropriate? Is the expense of entering a competition worth the possibility of winning? – and all that. However, Rogue River Blue’s win is very exciting for American cheesemaking in general. Through the tireless work of Rogue Creamery and cheesemakers across our country, the US is being taken more seriously as a place that produces excellent cheese. Rogue Creamery has provided another tasty stepping stone moving our industry forward, showing that we deserve a spot with the other Big Cheeses out there. Perhaps this will encourage not only the rest of the world to give our awesome American cheeses another look, but also remind us to celebrate the artisanal cheese coming from our country. Come in and try Rogue River Blue so you too can taste victory!
For the love of cheese and cheers for Rogue River Blue,