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Northwest Michigan cheese makers earn world-wide honors

REGION– The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development celebrated the state’s growing artesian cheese industry. Two Michigan cheesemakers, Leelanau Cheese Co. and Idyll Farms, received high honors at the 2023 World Cheese Awards held in Trondheim, Norway. Hosted by the Guild of Fine Food, the World Cheese Awards is the world’s largest cheese-only competition. The competition included 4,202 cheeses from 40 countries, delivered by boat, truck, train, and plane to the contest location.

“The World Cheese Awards is like the Super Bowl Championship for cheesemakers around the globe. It is wonderful to see Michigan’s artisan cheesemakers receiving international recognition,” said Tim Boring, MDARD Director. “Michigan’s artisan cheesemakers focus on making small-batch cheeses with unique styles and flavor profiles, and the results speak for themselves. Congratulations to both companies for their success at the 2023 World Cheese Awards.”

Leelanau Cheese Co., located in Suttons Bay, was awarded a Super Gold, the highest ranking in the competition, for its Leelanau Raclette, a traditional herdsman’s cheese, handmade in Leelanau County with local milk. The Leelanau Raclette was one of only 100 cheeses to earn the Super Gold designation at this year’s competition. The cheesemaker also won gold for its Leelanau Reserve. Majority owned by Mark and Amy Spitznagel, of Idyll Farms, and operated by managing partners and cheesemakers, Gary Smith and Joshua Hall, the Suttons Bay creamery focuses on cave-aged European style cheeses and specializes in crafting world-class Raclette and Fromage Blanc. Cheeses and themed gift boxes are available for purchase online or at the creamery, located at 3324 S.W. Bay Shore Drive, Suttons Bay, MI 49682.

“As a cheesemaker, you are always looking for objective measures of quality,” said Josh Hall. “It’s validating when the effort, time, and energy put into the product we love is also recognized internationally.”

Idyll Farms received silver awards for three hand-crafted goat cheeses – Idyll Pastures, Idyll Pastures Fennel Pollen, and Spreadable Idyll Pastures; and a bronze award for Idyll Pastures with Garlic and Herb. Idyll Farms is a 500-acre farmstead goat creamery located in Northport. The farm’s Certified Humane® Alpine goats are pasture-fed through managed intensive rotational grazing, which is great for the pastures, the soil, the goats, and best of all, their cheese. And by doing everything in house they meticulously coordinate the entire process to make some of the world’s tastiest award-winning G.O.A.T. cheese from pastures to plate.

Since 2014, Idyll Farms has won 35 American Cheese Society awards (more than any other goat cheese producer in 2017, 2019 and 2022), nine World Championship Cheese Awards, five U.S. Championship Cheese Awards, eight World Cheese Awards and a Good Foods Award. In 2021, they opened the first and only goat cheese vending machine in the world in the village of Northport. Idyll Farms offers its cheeses for sale at specialty retailers throughout Michigan and the U.S.

“We are delighted to have won four more awards at this year’s World Cheese Awards for our fresh, Idyll Pastures line, said Amy Spitznagel, owner of Idyll Farms. “Throughout the decade of producing cheese, we have proven ourselves to be competitive on an international scale. We pride ourselves on making the healthiest and tastiest G.O.A.T. cheese while improving the planet by using regenerative farming practices.”

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