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Valley Ford Cheese Co. Wins Best of Show in Sonoma County Harvest Fair Cheese Competition

Yogurt, butter, cheese and ice cream among Harvest Fair entries

Valley Ford Cheese

Valley Ford Cheese Co., owned and operated by Karen Bianchi Moreda and her son Joe Moreda, took best of show honors for its Fontina in the cheese competition at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The top cheese was made from Jersey cow's milk from the Bianchi family’s 640 acre dairy in Valley Ford where 400 cows are milked daily.
Karen Moreda, a director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, founded the Valley Ford Cheese Co. four years to showcase the rich milk from her family’s herd of Jersey cows. She began by making a farmstead Italian-style cheese that’s similar to the flavorful cheeses still crafted by her dairy-farming relatives in the Italian Alps. Two years out of the chute, Bianchi-Moreda’s cheese was winning awards and critical acclaim from chefs who were smitten with its nutty, buttery flavor and Alpine mountain character.

Valley Ford Cheese Co. won Best of Show at the 2011 Harvest Fair for its 14-month aged Montesio, an Italian style cheese. The Bianchi family’s bucolic farm meets Humane Farm Animal Care Program standards,which includes a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, and animals that are raised with sheltered resting areas and ample space.

Sonoma County has long been known for its thriving commercial dairy industry - with both large-scale and boutique producers churning out creamy fare. Like Bianchi-Moreda, many dairies are moving into artisan cheese production to add value to their dairy farming operations. Many entered their products in the 2012 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Professional Food Competition's Dairy Products section.

All dairy products entered in the competition were required to be commercially made, and derived from milk produced in Sonoma County. Also, products entered were required to be commercially available since January 1, 2012.

Judging

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair uses a Danish system of judging, which considers each item individually (if more than one entry is considered worthy, judges may award multiple gold medals). Judges for the Professional Dairy portion of the competition were Colette Hatch, a cheese buyer for Oliver's Markets; Sonoma's Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection; and Juliana Uruburu, a cheese buyer from Oakland.

Awards

Products were awarded Best of Show, double gold medals, gold medals, silver rosettes, or bronze rosettes, depending on placement.  The other winners in the competition were:

Best of Show "Other Dairy Product"

Best of Show "Other Dairy Product" went to The Killer Baking Company of Rohnert Park, California for its full-fat ice cream - Tahitian Vanilla. Owner and Chef Michael Garzouzi, explained that his process takes two full days to make the award winning ice cream (and all of his flavors). He says "It's an old way of making ice cream, but to me, it's the best way. Doing something really well is hard to do quickly."

Below is a list of double-gold and gold medal winners - by section - and the class within each section:

Yogurt

Goat - Flavored

  • Gold: Redwood Hill Farm Blueberry Yogurt - Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif.

Fluid (Kefir; buttermilk; yogurt smoothies; etc.)

Cow - Flavored

  • Gold: Lactose Free Lowfat Strawberry Pom Acia Kefir - Green Valley Organics, Sebastopol, Calif.

Goat - Plain

  • Gold: Redwood Hill Farm Plain Goat Milk Kefir - Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif.

Goat - Flavored

  • Gold: Mango Orange Pineapple Goat Milk Kefir - Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif.

Ice Cream - Full Fat

Vanilla

  • Double Gold: Tahitian Vanilla - The Killer Baking Company, Rohnert Park, Calif.

Chocolate

  • Gold: Chocolate Flake - The Killer Baking Company, Rohnert Park, Calif.

Other Flavor

  • Gold: Brownie & Clyde - The Killer Baking Company, Rohnert Park, Calif.
  • Gold: Lemon Drop - The Killer Baking Company, Rohnert Park, Calif.

Butter, Cultured

Salted

  • Gold: Salted Butter - Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif.

Cheese, Fresh

Goat - Flavored

  • Double Gold: Redwood Hill Farm 3 Peppercorn Chevre - Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif.

Cheese, All Surface Mold Ripen

Cow - Plain

  • Double Gold: Fontina - Valley Ford Cheese Co., Valley Ford, Calif.

Goat - Plain

  • Gold: Redwood Hill Farm Crottin - Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif.

Goat - Flavored

  • Double Gold: Redwood Hill Farm Cameo - Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif.

Natural Rind - Aged Cheese (aged under 6 months)

Cow

  • Gold: Estero Gold - Valley Ford Cheese Co., Valley Ford, Calif.
  • Gold: Organic Cow Cheese - Carabiner - Weirauch Creamery, Petaluma, Calif.
  • Gold: Rumpel - Weirauch Creamery, Petaluma, Calif.
  • Gold: Tomme Fraiche - Weirauch Creamery, Petaluma, Calif.

Sheep

  • Gold: Farmstead Sheep Cheese - Saint Rose - Weirauch Creamery, Petaluma, Calif.

Goat

  • Gold: Aged Raw Goat Milk Cheese - Swiss Made - Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese, Petaluma, Calif.

Natural Rind - Aged Cheese (aged 6 month and over)

Goat

  • Gold: Aged Goat Cheese - Swiss Made - Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese, Petaluma, Calif.

Rindless (feta, cheddar, jack, swiss, etc.) - Aged Cheese (aged 6 months and over)

Cow

  • Double Gold: Raw White Cheddar - Four Year - Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif.
  • Gold: Raw White Cheddar - Three Year - Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif.

For a complete list of all dairy award recipients, please visit www.harvestfair.org.

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