GRAFTON — Grafton Village Cheese, a business of the nonprofit Windham Foundation in Grafton, Vt., was awarded two Best in Class medals for their Traditional Clothbound Cheddar and their Bear Hill at the 33rd Annual American Cheese Society Judging and Competition in July in Portland, Ore.
Grafton Village Cheese produces handmade aged cheddar and cave-aged specialty cheeses using milk from small family farms.
In June, Grafton Village Cheese took home four awards from the International Cheese & Dairy Awards Judging, celebrating its 125th anniversary at the Staffordshire County Showground, England.
In the Best USA Cheese category, their Traditional Clothbound Cheddar received a gold medal, while their Bear Hill cheese earned a silver medal.
Bear Hill also won a silver medal in the best non-UK/UK Cheese category, while Shepsog earned a silver medal in its division.
All three cheeses are cave-aged for a minimum of seven months, “a traditional method that allows this cheese to take on a deeper variety of flavors,” according to the cheesemakers.
Grafton's signature Clothbound Cheddar is wrapped in cheesecloth. “The texture is firm and creamy with aromas of cave, mushrooms, and fresh butter,” they added. “Flavors are reminiscent of a traditional English cheddar: grassy, nutty notes dominate with lemony accents and a smooth, lactic body that carries on through with a meaty finish.”
Bear Hill, named for the bluff overlooking Grafton Village, is an Alpine-style washed rind cheese made with 100 percent sheep's milk.
“This cheese combines the sweet and nutty flavors characteristic of Alpine cheeses with the fruity and savory complexity of sheep's milk,” the cheesemakers said. “Rich aromas of hazelnut and browned butter give way to a balanced harmony of flavors ranging from toasted nuts to artichokes in butter, with a long, savory finish.”
Shepsog, which manufacturers say is the Algonquin word for sheep, combines local sheep's and cow's milk. “Its flavors are complex and earthy, alongside bright lemony flavors and a sweet, nutty finish,” said the cheesemakers.
Grafton Village Cheese was founded in 1892 as the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company, which converted surplus milk from local dairy farmers into cheese.
As one of Vermont's legacy cheese producers, they have continued making cheese by hand and in small batches using premium milk collected from small, local family farms in Grafton. More information can be found at GraftonVillageCheese.com.