Rogue Creamery’s iconic Rogue River Blue Cheese recently achieved a monumental first for the American specialty and farmstead cheese industry: it won the coveted title of World Champion Cheese at the 2019 World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy.
Rogue River Blue Cheese is an organic, cave-aged blue that is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves that are soaked in pear spirits. It is made exclusively with milk from Rogue Creamery’s Certified Organic Dairy Farm in Grants Pass, OR, where cows graze on pastures bordering the Rogue River. A seasonal product, Rogue River Blue is only made for a few months each year beginning on the autumnal equinox, when cooler temperatures bring renewed growth to the pastures and the cow’s milk becomes richer and higher in butterfat. Rogue Creamery president David Gremmels considers this to be the best milk for expressing the unique attributes of their region.
This cheese was first envisioned by Gremmels himself. “When I purchased Rogue Creamery in 2001, I already had in my mind the idea that I wanted to create a blue cheese influenced by the traditions of Europe, but with flavors and texture unique to the Creamery’s home in Southern Oregon,” says Gremmels.
“I launched the new recipe in 2002 using Rogue Creamery’s classic Oregon Blue Cheese recipe as its inspiration, creating an American original and extending its aging to capture the distinct molds of our historic cheese caves,” he explains. “We sampled local grape leaves and ultimately decided that the Syrah leaf gave us the flavor and texture we were looking for. These leaves soaked in pear liqueur for nearly a year to soften and add a nuanced, fruity flavor, then were used to wrap the aged cheese wheels.”
Rogue River Blue ‘bottle-shocked’ the world just the following year, taking Reserve Champion and the title of “Best Blue Cheese in the World” at the 2003 World Cheese Awards. Now, 16 years later, it has received the only distinction that could surpass this original honor: Grand Champion. It is the first time an American-made cheese has received this top honor.
Each purchase of Rogue River Blue helps Rogue Creamery fulfill its goal of, “using cheese as a force of good.” As Oregon’s first social benefit company, Rogue Creamery is committed to using business to build a better future; and they are making this possible with every wheel, wedge and crumble.
Though Rogue River Blue has sold out for the season in nearly every retail store, the persistent may still luck upon some at specialty cheese counters. Those planning ahead can visit RogueCreamery.com and put their name on the list to preorder Rogue River Blue when it is released again in September 2020. DB