© Christina Holmes

A Wisconsin cheese triumphed over nearly 3,000 other entries.

Justine Sterling
March 14, 2016

We know that America makes amazing cheeses, but for all too long our delicious domestic offerings have gone underappreciated by the rest of the world. Finally, though, our curds are getting the praise they deserve: A Wisconsin cheese just won first in show at the World Championship Cheese Contest.

Emmi Roth USA’s Roth Grand Cru Surchoix, an Alpine-style, washed-rind, semi-hard cheese aged for more than nine months made in Monroe, WI, took the competition's top prize with a near-perfect score of 99.8 out of 100. It beat out 2,955 other entries. This is the first time an American cheese maker has won the prize since 1988, when Burnett Dairy Cooperative (also based in Wisconsin) won for a string cheese. Yes, string cheese can be that good. 

While Wisconsin is, in a large part, known for mild, easy-eating cheeses like Colby or fresh cheese curds, the Surchoix is a powerful beast of a cheese with flavors like caramel and mushrooms. “The flavors, they’re really big flavors but they’re balanced,” Russell Smith, one of the judges, told the Wisconsin State Journal. “The texture is just perfect. Following up with a really nice texture is just as important as flavor.”

Emmi Roth’s world champion Surchoix wasn’t the only triumph for cheeseheads. Nearly 40 Wisconsin cheeses were awarded the top honors in the competition's 110 different categories.