CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — A huge honor comes specially delivered to the Rogue Valley on Wednesday after traveling thousands of miles away from Bergamo, Italy.
Last week, Central Point’s Rogue Creamery was awarded “World Champion Cheese” for their “Rogue River Blue,” a blue cheese.
It’s the first cheese in the U.S. to win the award.
“We wrap the wheel in organic, biodynamic Syrah grape leaves that are born from Cow Horn Vineyard in the Applegate,” said David Gremmels, President of Rogue Creamery.
Gremmels says he created the cheese back in 2002 to express the flavors of the Rogue Valley.
He says the cheese takes two years to make and starts with herds of cows grazing organic pastures in Grants Pass.
“The milk is brought to us every other day where we gently heat it and put it in the vat and create cheese curds,” said Gremmels.
Eventually, it’s put into a cave where it ages for nearly a year.
Then, on Autumnal equinox from September 21st to the 22nd, he says it’s ready.
“We notice the composition of butter fats and solids and really a richness in the milk that’s really expressed in the cheese,” he said.
That carefully-crafted process is what Gremmels says distinguishes his cheese from the rest.
“These rooms have been operating for over 86 years, so there’s natural bacteria and fungus in the environment that are part of the cheese,” he said.
Although he and the Rogue Creamery team are over-the-moon about their new award, their true happiness is something simpler — the smiling faces they get to share their cheese with.
“It brings people to the table. That cheesy goodness comes out of every bite, right? It’s just people are just filled with joy,” he said.
Gremmels says they plan to enter a new cheese at the competition next year and are considering one of their newer cheeses like Caveman Blue, Smokey Blue, or Oregon Blue.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia.
She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.