Wisconsin cheesemakers are the big cheese at national championship

Three Wisconsin cheesemakers swept the board at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest on Thursday, taking home the top spot as well as being the first and second runners-up.

The top cheese at the contest was a black pepper BellaVitano from Mike Matucheski of Antigo’s Sartori Cheese. The first runner-up, an aged cheddar from Weyauwega, Wisconsin, was submitted by Terry Lensmire of Agropur. The Marieke Gouda team from Thorp, Wisconsin, was named the second runner-up for its Marieke Gouda Belegen.

Contest officials said a record-setting 2,303 cheeses, butters and yogurts from 33 states were submitted for the event. Judges had narrowed those down to 20 by Thursday, 14 of which were from the Badger State.

The dairy products were broken up into 105 categories and judged. Waterloo-based Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese took home awards for their fresh mozzarella cheese as well as their jalapeno cheese curds .

The event has been held every other year since 1981. Full results can be seen at the United States Championship Cheese contest website.