Vermont Creamery of Websterville has the best specialty butter and aged goat cheese in the country, at least according to the Specialty Food Association, which last week gave its gold Sofi award to the Vermont company’s Sea Salt Cultured Butter and Coupole Aged Goat Cheese. The company’s Bijou Goat Cheese won a Sofi bronze statue.

“It is always a tremendous honor to be recognized among our industry peers by the Specialty Food Association,” said Adeline Druart, president of Vermont Creamery. “A gold statue for our cultured butter is a tribute to the tireless efforts of our dedicated makers, who consciously craft our delicious dairy every day here in Vermont.” Druart started with the company 15 years ago as a student intern from France learning how to make cheese, and has been with the company ever since.

This is the third Sofi in the past five years for both sea salt butter and Bijou cheese, and the first for Coupole cheese. Vermont Creamery products have won 14 Sofi awards since 2014, according to Druart.

The Specialty Food Association’s Sofi Awards have been honoring the best in specialty food for 47 years. Sofi awards, which are given to members of the association, are selected through a blind tasting process from a pool of 1,800 entries from around the United States by a panel of expert industry judges.

According to Druart, the cows’ milk needed for its products is purchased from the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery in St. Albans, and the goats’ milk is purchased from 17 Vermont farms and from farms in Ontario and Quebec.

Vermont Creamery began as a farmstead operation with just 60 goats at the Hooper farm in Brookfield, and moved to Websterville in 1989. The company has seen substantial growth in recent years as the total number of employees has grown from 45 in 2014 to 120 today, with 17 addition employees to be added by the end of this summer.

On Thursday, Vermont Creamery broke ground on a facility expansion to support the company’s long-term growth. The production facility expansion will take place over three phases and will increase the Creamery’s Websterville plant capacity by 38 percent, including the renovation of the existing fresh cheese facility. All three phases have a target completion date of Oct. 1, 2020.

The company, which was purchased in 2017 by Land ‘O Lakes of Minnesota, a farmer-owned cooperative, is independently operated.

The Specialty Food Association, based in New York City, is a membership-based trade association representing approximately 3,400 businesses.

Also at the Sofi awards this year:

- Cabot Creamery Cooperative, located in Cabot, won a 2019 Best New Product for their Cabot Centennial Cheddar.

- Wozz! Kitchen Specialties won three awards: a Silver Medal for their Moroccan Tomato Onion Relish, a Silver Medal for their Grapefruit, Juniper & Honey Vinegar, and a Gold Medal for their Vietnamese Green Tea and Mint Dressing.

- Runamok Maple Products won a 2019 Best New Product Award for their Organic Vermont Maple Cream.

- Douglas Sweets received the Gold Medal for their Italian Lemon-Rosemary Shortbread.

- Blake Hill Preserves won a 2019 Best New Product for their Farm & Forage Wild Rose & strawberry Jam.

- Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind won a Silver Medal for Smoked Maple Sriracha Sauce.

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