Nine North Bay cheese producers took home awards from the 2011 American Cheese Society's annual Judging & Competition in early August, with Redwood Hill Farm of Sebastopol heading the pack with a total of five awards.
Laura Chenel's Chevre of Sonoma, the pioneer of American goat cheese, was recognized as the best chevre in the country, while the Laura Chenel Cabecou also took first place for a marinated goat's milk cheese. The company was started in the 1970s by Laura Chenel, who sold it in 2006 to French cheese company Rians Group.
Here is the complete list of local winners:
Bellwether Farms of Valley Ford: Sheep's Milk Ricotta won third place for fresh, unripened cheeses made from sheep's milk; Creme Fraiche won second place for cow's milk creme fraiche; Blacksberry Sheep Milk Yogurt won second place for yogurts with flavor added.
Cowgirl Creamery of Point Reyes Station: Fromage Blanc won third place for Fromage Blanc, Fromage Frais and Quark; Mt. Tam won second place for Americann Originals/original recipe, cow's milk; Cottage Cheese tied for third place for cultured products made from cow's milk.
Cypress Grove of Arcata: Humboldt Fog Grande won third place for American Originals/original recipe made from goat's milk; Purple Haze won third place for goat cheese with an herbal flavor added.
Laura Chenel's Chevre: Laura Chenel's Chevre won first place for rindless, fresh goat cheese; Laura Chenel's Cabecou won first place for marinated goat's milk cheese.
Marin French Cheese Co. of Petaluma: Melange Brie won third place for soft-ripened cheeses made from mixed milks; Peppercorn Brie-Garlic won first place for soft-ripened cheese, flavor added.
Nicasio Valley Cheese Company of Nicasio: Foggy Morning won second place for fromage blanc, fromage frais and quark made from cow's milk.
Petaluma Creamery/Spring Hill Jersey Cheese of Petaluma: Dry Jack won first place for American Originals/Dry Jack.