THORP, Wis (WEAU)--Wisconsin is known across the globe for its dairy industry.
But this week it was Western Wisconsin that took center stage, when Holland's Family Cheese in Thorp won the U.S. National Cheese Championship.
Ten years ago, the Penterman family moved from the Netherlands to Western Wisconsin.
“I heard some cows in the background and I woke my husband up and I said 'Honey we should try to make cheese',” said Marieke Penterman, the owner of Holland's Family Cheese.
Missing favorite cheeses from their home country, Marieke and her husband Rolf got to work, founding Holland's Family Cheese.
Flash forward to this past Wednesday at the U.S. National Cheese Championship in Green Bay.
They had entries from 30 states and over 1700 hundred entries in that contest.
“We entered about 14 different cheeses in six different categories,” Penterman said.
After the entries were sampled and the points counted, the local cheesemaker won numerous awards but the biggest surprise: their aged Gouda won best cheese in the land!
“Speechless, I was literally speechless, never have we ended up with something this big. I do have to say, it's because of the dedication of the team that we made it so far,” Penterman said.
What's the secret to their success? Penterman said it's the milk produced on site.
“I think that's one of the reasons why it tastes so clean and fresh because it comes straight from the cow,” Penterman said.
The award solidifys Wisconsin’s reputation in the cheese world but also brings lots of glory to the small community of Thorp.
“Our whole team, we're floating on a yellow cloud. So if you see that floating by, it's us,” Penterman said.
Right now the cheese company is making plans to move its location closer to Highway 29 into Thorp.
That move is set to take place this fall.
The community gathered at the Silver Dollar Bar Saturday night to celebrate the win.