Sheep’s cheese wins Supreme Champion at Artisan Cheese Awards.

Sheep's cheese wins Supreme Champion at Artisan Cheese Awards.

A sheep’s cheese called ‘Berkswell’ was crowned Supreme Champion at the recent Artisan Cheese Awards held in Melton Mowbray. The winning cheese, produced by the Fletcher family of Ram Hall Farm in Coventry, beat over five hundred entries from 115 producers to win the prestigious award. The award comes with a gleaming silver cup and a £1,000 cheque from sponsor The Fine Cheese Co.

Ann-Marie Dyas, Co-Founder of The Fine Cheese Co. said “We’ve been selling Berkswell for around 30 years which is almost as long as the Fletchers have been making it. It’s a real testament to their continuing commitment to quality and raw milk cheese that they continue to win prestigious awards such as this. We couldn’t be more pleased to see them run off with the Supreme Champion Award!”

Berkswell not only won the Supreme Champion Award but also the Best Farmhouse Cheese class sponsored by Harvey & Brockless and Best English Cheese sponsored by the NFU. When told about the news Stephen Fletcher of the Ram Hall Dairy said: “’We are so proud that Berkswell Cheese is the Supreme Champion for 2017. It’s a credit to our great team of Cheesemakers and also recognition for the quality of sheep’s milk cheese. We all have the belief that we make a great cheese and we’re glad that others in the world of artisan cheese agree!”

Matthew O’Callaghan organiser of the awards noted that sheep’s milk cheese is becoming more popular in Britain. He said that in the Middle Ages Britain’s main export was wool from millions of sheep reared across the country particularly in the large monastic settlements to be found in Yorkshire and elsewhere.  Sheep’s cheese was much more common in those days with cheeses such as Wensleydale originating as a sheep’s milk cheese. The dissolution of the monasteries and the Enclosure Acts led to a decline in the number of sheep and the rise in cattle and cow’s milk cheeses. Recently more producers in Britain have started to produce sheep’s cheeses and the response by the public has been very encouraging.

At the Awards a total of 24 prizes were handed out which recognised the best cheeses for texture, animal origin, raw milk, type and nationality.  Over £10,000 was raised in sponsorship as prize money given directly to the winning cheesemakers.

A total of 46 Golds were awarded by the judges with 55 silvers and 52 Bronzes also being handed out. Of the 115 cheesemakers who entered, 16 were from Ireland followed by Scotland with 9 and Wales with 7. There was a very good representation, 30 cheesemakers, from micro producers (<5 tonnes a year production) and another 30 from small producers (between 5 and 25 tonnes a year).

62% of the cheeses entered were made with vegetarian rennet. 40% were made with raw milk. Only 11% were organic. 72% of the entries were made from cow’s milk, 11% sheep’s milk and 17% from goat’s milk.

The 7th Artisan Cheese Fair followed the Awards with 69 cheesemakers from the UK and Ireland selling their cheeses directly to several thousand visitors who attended the event.


Cheese Maker Cheese Award/Class Sponsor Prize
Supreme Champion      
Ram Hall Dairy Berkswell Fine Cheese Co £1,000
Class Winners  
Golden Cross Cheese Co Golden Cross Soft Melton Town Estate £500
Village Maid Cheese Co Wigmore Semi-Soft Paul Thomas Consultancy £500
Lincolnshire Poacher Lincolnshire Poacher Hard Bradbury’s Cheese £500
Boyne Valley Farmhouse Boyne Valley Blue Blue JKM Foods £500
Lincolnshire Poacher Lincolnshire Poacher Cow A La Carte Packaging Solutions £500
Village Maid Cheese Co Spenwood Sheep Marks & Spencer £500
Tenacres Cheese Hebden Goat Goat La Fromagerie £500
Cote Hill Cheese Cote Hill Blue Vegetarian Vegetarian Society £500
Golden Cross Cheese Co Golden Cross Raw Milk Melton Borough Council £500
Haford Cheese Hafod Welsh Cheddar Organic Melton Mowbray Food Partnership £500
Ram Hall Dairy Berkswell Farmhouse Harvey and Brockless £500
Trethowan’s Dairy Ltd Gorwydd Caerphilly Territorial Neal’s Yard £500
Hartington Creamery Ltd Hartington Stilton PFN Howes Percival LLP £500
Norton and Yarrow Cheese Sinodun Hill New Cheese La Fromagerie £500
Whitelake Rachel Washed Rind Brooksby Melton College £500
Other Awards
Cheesemaker Cheese Award Sponsor Prize
Cosyn Cymru Brefu Bach Small Producer Artisan Cheese Awards £750
Bo Rua Farm Bo Rua Cheese Micro Producer School of Artisan Food (voucher) £500
Ram Hall Dairy Berkswell Best English NFU £500
Inagh Farmhouse Cheese St Tola 500g Ash Log Best Irish Not Sponsored
Isle of Mull Isle of Mull Best Scottish Not Sponsored
Caws Cenarth Cheese Thelma Original Caerffili Best Welsh Not Sponsored
Long Clawson Dairy Stilton People’s Choice Not Sponsored
Colston Bassett Dairy Stilton Best Stilton Benton’s (Melton Mowbray) £500
Total Prizes £10,750