A small Duvall cheese maker won big at the American Cheese Society 2014 awards. Cherry Valley Dairy received a first-place award for its Dairy Reserve, an aged Jersey cow milk cheese, in the Rubbed Rind category. Its cultured buttermilk won a third place ribbon as well.
It was a notable honor for a relatively new — and also rather old — establishment. The dairy has been around for more than 80 years, cheese maker Anne Becker said in a press release, but was purchased in 2005 by “eco-preuner Gretchen Garth.” Head cheesemaker Blain Hages, formerly of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, joined in 2011 “to build a new onsite creamery and develop a new line of natural, artisanal dairy products.” The dairy’s Carrot Nasturtium Reserve cheese also won a second-place nod in 2013.
Overall, Washington cheeses didn’t score particularly high this time compared with years like 2012, when Beecher’s won Best in Show. This year’s Best in Show was the Tarentaise Reserve from the Vermont-based Farms for City Kids Foundation. Easier to find locally might be the second-place winner, the Point Reyes Bay Blue from the Point Reyes Farmstand Cheese Company.
The Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival called out these other Washington winners from the 1,685 entries in the competition (remember, you have to enter to win): Beecher’s won a handful — first place in cheese curds for its Flagship Curds, first place in flavored cheddars for its Marco Polo Reserve and third-place awards in two cheddar categories for its 4-year Flagship and Flagship Reserve. Other winners were Kurtwood Farms (third-place in cow’s milk Camembert for Dinah’s Cheese,) Jacob’s Creamery (third place in the Dutch-style category for its aged gouda,) and Willapa Hills (third place in an open cow’s milk category for its Lilly Pad.)