Dorset Blue Vinny is a multi-award winning blue cheese, little known outside the West Country. It is handmade at Woodbridge Farm in north Dorset to a 300-year-old recipe using milk from the farm's own Holstein-Friesian cows.
Dorset Blue Vinny is a crumbly cheese veined with blue. It is creamy in flavour with a mellow blue taste and edible rind. It tastes superb on an oatcake with a spoonful of the farm's own pear and spice chutney.
- Pasteurised cow's milk
- Vegetarian rennet.
What is special about Dorset Blue Vinny?
On a recent visit to the West Country, I had the pleasure of popping into Woodbridge Farm, the home of Dorset Blue Vinny just outside Sturminster Newton, north Dorset. There I met Sue and Claudia both fresh from making the day's cheese. Over a cup of tea and of course some tasters of their cheese, they told me more about the history of this cheese and how it is made today.
Woodbridge Farm is the Davies family farm. Mike Davies, now 80 years old and buzzing around on a tractor during my visit, ventured into cheese-making around forty years ago to diversify activities on the family dairy farm in the face of milk quotas. Today, his son Richard runs the farm, and daughter Emily is also involved in the business.
Dorset Blue Vinny is made to a 300-year-old recipe which Mike resurrected in the 1980s. Before World War II, it was a common farmhouse cheese in the Dorset area but by the mid 20th Century production had fallen to very small quantities on a few small farms. Traditionally it was made using skimmed milk, left over from the more lucrative butter making process. Here there are similarities to the ancient Suffolk cheese "Bang" but thankfully the end product is wholly different to the extremely hard and poor quality cheese that was made in East Anglia during the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Dorset Blue Vinny is made from the milk of the farm's own herd of 270 cows. The cows have yet to go out to pasture this spring as the farm is situated in a hollow and the grass still needs a week or two to dry out. Following a TB scare three years ago, all milk for cheese-making is pasteurised and after being left to settle in vats for a couple of hours, its cream is hand-skimmed off the top. Historically this cream has been thrown away but the team have recently acquired a butter-making machine and this month will begin producing their own butter, using a 180-year-old recipe from a treasured grey, battered book sitting on the office bookshelf.
The name Dorset Blue Vinny comes from a local Dorset term "vinew" meaning to become mouldy. It could also be that "vinny" is a corruption of the word "veiny" referring to the blue pattern running through the cheese. In 1998 the cheese was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status and today, Woodbridge Farm is the only producer. It is little known outside the West Country but the team are working to raise its profile, winning a number of awards in recent years. In 2018, Dorset Blue Vinny won "Gold" at the World Cheese Awards in Bergen and was crowned Best Blue Cheese and People's Choice in the Great British Cheese Awards.
Very mellow and creamy in flavour, Sue describes Dorset Blue Vinny as an excellent "introductory" blue, a good place to start exploring the world of blue cheese. It has a crumby texture as it is only lightly pressed during the make and then wrapped in cling film for a few days to keep its shape. After hand piercing, the cheeses are matured for between 15 and 16 weeks. Sue believes the cheeses coming through at the moment taste really great after some good makes back in January.