Joint silver went to Harvey & Brockless by Cellar Dairy for its goats cheese Blanche and Butler’s Farmhouse Cheeses for its oak-fired Red Leicester Smouldering Ember; Wyke Farms was awarded bronze with its Ivy’s Reserve Vintage Cheddar.
The Virtual Cheese Awards was created in 2020 by Sarah de Wit to celebrate and support Britain’s cheese industry during the Covid-19 pandemic which threatened to decimate the industry.
It was the second year in a row Somerset cheese producer Feltham’s Farm took the top prize at the awards after it won with Renegade Monk in 2020.
La Fresca Margarita (meaning fresh cheese) is made with pasteurized cow’s milk, is available in salted or plain varieties, and was inspired by the cheesemakers’ travels in Latin America and Spain. Margarita is Spanish for “daisy” which grows in abundance on Feltham’s Farm marsh meadow in Somerset. The cheese was developed during lockdown.
The winners of the Best of British cheese awards:
Best Cheddar Cheese – Wyke Farms for Ivy’s Reserve Vintage cheddar
Best Territorial Cheese – South Caernarfon Creameries for Double Gloucester
Best Blue Cheese – Jones Cheese’s Tysul Blue
Best Enhanced Cheese – Butler’s Farmhouse Cheeses for Smouldering Ember
Best Speciality Cheese – Feltham’s Farm for La Fresca Margarita
Best Artisan Hard Cheese – Fred W Read & Sons for Lincolnshire Poacher
Best Artisan Soft Cheese – Harvey & Brockless and Cheese Cellar for Blanche
Best Artisan Cheese from Farms Own Herd – Lincolnshire Poacher
Best Welsh cheese – South Caernarfon Creameries for Double Gloucester
Best English Cheese – Feltham’s Farm for La Fresca Margarita
Best Scottish Cheese – J & C Reade for Hebridean Blue
Trophy for Sustainability – Isle of Mull Cheese (Brendan Reade)
Young Cheesemaker of the year – Ryan Gee from Hartington Creamery
Cheese Hero – Shepherd’s Purse Cheese
Cheese and dairy consultant Sarah de Wit, co-founder of the Virtual Cheese Awards, said, “We’re so grateful to everyone who took part in and supported the awards this year, it was a real celebration of all that is brilliant about British cheese. Feltham’s Farm winning for a Spanish-inspired fresh cheese just shows how innovative our dairy industry is. They take inspiration from cheeses from around the world and give them a bit of British spice.
“It’s vitally important that we continue to support our Great British cheese industry by seeking out and buying new and exciting cheeses, which is now so simple with the growth of online cheese shops. We will be donating money from the event to a Specialist Cheesemakers Association bursary fund which will support British cheesemakers of the future.”
The event featured interviews, panels and cheese tastings with a range of British cheese producers, cheesemongers retailers, chefs and cheese experts.
The final featured seven final cheese categories judged live online.
Marcus Fergusson, cheesemaker/owner at Feltham’s Farm, said, “We are completely blown away by this win. La Fresca Margarita is a lovely queso fresco we developed over lockdown as a counterbalance to our pungent washed rind cheeses. We loved how it engaged the judges in a different conversation about what to expect from a fresh cheese. Once again, the Virtual Cheese Awards have moved our cheese industry forwards, because there’s nothing like being able to see your cheese tasted blind by experts in front of everyone…”