Say ‘cheese’ and smile at the taste

Another award-winning year for Cote Hill Cheese
Another award-winning year for Cote Hill Cheese

OSGODBY cheese producers Michael and Mary Davenport are looking back on another successful year for Cote Hill Cheese – thanks to the support of local buyers.

And this year they have welcomed another generation of cheesemaker into the family firm.

Son Joe joined the business last spring and has been instrumental in the production of Cote Hill’s newest addition to the award-winning range.

Over the past year, Cote Hill has consistently been ranked in the top spots at many of the country’s cheese events, including gold two-star at the Great Taste Awards and a first place at the Newark and Nottinghamshire Christmas Primestock Show for Cote Hill Blue.

Although not officially launched until February, the new Cote Hill Red also received a first place and was named Reserve Champion at the Newark show.

“We do keep getting mentions at all these events,” said Mary. “But just to be up there when there are so many fantastic cheeses entering is very good.”

But it is the local customers who are the most important to the Davenports.

“The buying local ethos is better supported in rural areas like ours,” said Mary, “and we sell a lot of cheese at Sunnyside Up, Louth Cheese Shop and the Cheese Society.”

“We take pride in selling to our local customers and they in turn have the pride in a product that has been made in their area.”

Michael and Mary Davenport have been farming and milking cows at Cote Hill Farm for more than 30 years, but it was back in 2005 they started making cheese, using milk produced by their herd of 70 Friesian, Holstein and Red Poll cows.

“We have certainly learnt a lot over the past six years. It has been a huge learning curve,” added Mary.

And such has been the success of the cheese production, it is now distributed all over England and has just broken into the Scottish market.

Back in May, production at Osgodby reached full capacity, with nine tons of cheese being produced a year.

Now, with the help of a grant from the Rural Development Programme for England, the cheesemaking premises have now been expanded, which will mean production is set to double.

And it is this expansion that has made the creation of Cote Hill Red – a semi-hard cheese matured for two months.

A Red Reserve is also in development, which will have a more pungent flavour.

First then for the Davenports this year is the Great Taste Awards in the spring and, of course, the official launch of Cote Hill Red in February, ready for Easter.

But the highlight of 2012 will be a little closer to home – the wedding of Joe, when, of course, Cote Hill cheese will feature high on the fayre served to the guests.