Estimated time to read: 4 minutes
I think we can all say we love a little bit of cheese (or a lot in my case) and if you’re planning on visiting our Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa there is a shop you must visit! The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company are the only company in the world making real cheddar cheese in the village of Cheddar. This is the place to visit for all cheese lovers and you can even watch the whole process in their working Dairy and Visitor Centre!
NOTE: 10 points to Gryffindor if you can count how many times I say cheddar in the post… the answer will be at the end (this includes titles and the paragraph above)
The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company are family owned, independent, artisan cheddar cheesemakers in the village of Cheddar. In 2003 the Spencer family purchased and took over the company, which at the time was struggling in the industry, but Katherine and John Spencer had the idea of making delicious cheese that truly reflects the region’s heritage and history.
John and Katherine have a combined 80 years’ experience in the cheese and dairy industry, so they were the perfect people for the job. They combine high standards of traditional cheese production and a transparent production site where you can watch your cheese being made, cut and packaged before tasting and purchasing at the retail store.
The cheese made by the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is award winning! Recently in May 2017 they won Champion Cheese at the Devon County Show, in 2013 it picked up the Best Cheddar award at the British Cheese Awards, as well as back in 2008 winning Best Cheddar award at the World Cheese Awards (still counting how many ‘cheddars’?). In 2017 their Vintage cheddar won silver at The World Cheese Awards.
Admission to the Visitor Centre is £2, which also includes 2 children’s admission for free. Its open 7 days a week, from 10am to 3:25pm, with the retail shop staying open until 4:30pm, and later during the summer.
In the Visitor Centre you can see the whole cheese making process from start to finish, (which takes around 7 hours), or you can watch the 20 minute DVD. Your admission allows you to return throughout the day to view the different stages of the making process, so you can combine this experience with an afternoon tea at one of the tea shops in the village, or even an excursion to the Cheddar Gorge itself.
There are lots of illustrations on the walls and plenty of information to keep the whole family entertained along the journey of watching the professionals make, mature and package the delicious cheese.
After the tour, make sure to visit the retail shop next door and have a wander around, where you’ll find a wide variety of cheese to taste test, from Mellow to Mature and Vintage cheddar, as well as the unique Cave Matured Cheese, which has been matured in the nearby Cheddar Gorge Cave. The shop also stocks a whole host of cheese related products from cheese knives and boards to chutney and pickles, as well as their award-winning cheese straws!
In general, most cheese is made the same way, but The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is the only place to make authentic cheddar cheese in Cheddar itself. To be called cheddar cheese from Cheddar, the cheese has to be made from unpasteurised milk which has been taken from cows who graze on the grass surrounding Cheddar village, made by hand using an expert cheese maker’s skill, and it must be matured in cloth for up to 20 months.
Every morning fresh milk from a local farm is delivered to The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company. The milk is then poured into the open cheese vat, starting the cheese making process. In order to preserve the naturally occurring and healthy bacteria the milk is not pasteurised. This adds to the wonderful complexity of the flavours. There are many stages to cheddar cheese making, the most famous being ‘Cheddaring’, which involves cutting, turning, stacking and draining the curd. You can learn all about how important this process is and even witness it during your Visitor Centre experience.
Once ready, the cheese is then pressed and dressed in traditional cotton cloth before being transferred to maturing stores. In 2006 The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company started maturing some of their cheese in the famous, natural caves in the Cheddar Gorge, if this flavour takes your fancy you can purchase the Cave Matured Cheddar in the retail shop or in the shop at the entrance to the Caves.
Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa s only a 10 minute walk away from The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, so book your holiday in Somerset and take a unique day out to watch how this world famous cheese is made, and then buy some mouth-watering, handmade, real cheddar cheese from Cheddar village.
Thank you to Mark at The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company for all the help on this post!
NOTE: did you count how many times I said cheddar? The answer was 42… did it feel like that? It felt like a lot of cheddar…