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By Emily Hunter | 06/27/2022 | Artisan Foods, Attractions, Dining, Things to Do, Wine

THE WORLD'S BEST CHEESE

The Rogue Valley is an agricultural mecca — offering the best in pears, wine, chocolates, and, of course, cheese. There are many notable businesses that have created a shaped Southern Oregon, including the Rogue Creamery, which has been a staple of this luscious valley for over 80 years.

In 1935, Gaetano "Tom" Vella and Celso Viviani - two of the biggest figures in the cheese world at the time - formed a partnership to acquire the Rogue River Valley Co-Op and transform it into a cheese factory. With few jobs available and many dairy farmers struggling to make ends meet, it was their goal to help as many families as they could during the height of the Great Depression. With the farm's fertile valley soils, ample water and rolling pastures, the Heart of the Rogue proved to be the perfect place for raising cows and crafting cheese.

The Creamery made significant contributions to the war effort during 1940-48, producing one million pounds of cheddar for troops deployed to different countries. Due to a shortage in workers because of the draft, they also employed women at their manufacturing facilities.

After World War II, Vella expanded the creamery’s offerings, producing the first wheels of Oregon Blue in 1953. This was one of the first cave-aged, French-style blue cheeses ever created west of the Missouri River. The cheese was met with many accolades, and would soon become renowned throughout the nation.

Ignazio "Ig" Vella inherited the business from his father in 1998, and changed the name to Rogue Creamery in 2002. Sharing a deep respect for the art and tradition of artisan cheesemaking like his father, Ignazio has carried on the traditions and greatness of Rogue Creamery throughout its years.

Today, Rogue Creamery’s cheeses are sold worldwide, winning numerous awards and accolades - including the title for World's Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London  a first for a U.S. creamery.

But the accolades don’t stop there. Their Rogue River Blue Cheese was also named best cheese in the world at the 2019 World Cheese Awards in Italy. Nearly 4,000 cheeses from around the globe were tasted and trialed by technical experts, retailers, buyers and food writers before crowning a winner.

On top of their accolades for delicious cheeses and dairy products, Rogue Creamery has also been recognized as the #1 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon. The creamery has annually made this list for over 13 years, with recognitions to their renewable energy practices, reduced packaged waste, employee commuter program, and energy waste reduction with the use of solar panels. In addition to working green, Rogue Creamery was also honored on Oregon Business' 2022 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Rogue Creamery became Oregon's first B-Corporation in 2014, and has been on the cutting edge of sustainability ever since - ranking in the top 10% for its impact on people and planet of B Corps worldwide in 2017.

You will certainly taste the difference when you visit, as the creamery uses certified organic whole milk to make their original blue cheeses. All milk is directly sourced from their dairy located along the banks of the beautiful Rogue River, ensuring a taste of Southern Oregon in everything they produce.

Additionally, the Creamery’s happy cows are bred to produce the perfect milk for cheesemaking – rich in protein and butterfat. Because the cows are pasture grazed for most of the year, their flavorful milk is ideal for producing delicious cheese. And if you visit their Facebook page, you might catch a video of these adorable bovines trotting through the fields.

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Rogue Creamery’s success has also brought more attention to Southern Oregon — showing people from around the world that the Rogue Valley is an exceptional region for agritourismThe topography of the region is truly exceptional, with its unique elevation placement and weather conditions.

Sample the World's Best Cheese right here in the Heart of the Rogue anytime on your visit, or experience the cheese at the Oregon Cheese Festival each Spring. Sample and purchase locally crafted, artisan cheese and delightful pairings, including and especially those offered by Rogue Creamery.

Whether you’re a dairy aficionado or in search of the world’s best blue cheese, we have it all in Medford. Plan your agricultural vacation, and have your taste buds singing with the best in cheese, wine and so much more.

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