Woodbridge Farm in Sturminster Newtown is the Davies' family farm. Mike Davies, now 80 years old, ventured into cheese-making around forty years ago to diversify farm activities following the introduction 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 that 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 limited 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 Davies' own herd of 270 cows. Following a TB scare three years ago, all milk for cheese-making is now pasteurised and after being left to settle in vats for a couple of hours, its cream is hand-skimmed off the top before starter cultures, rennet and Penicillium roqueforti spores are added.
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.