IT is dearly loved by TV duo Wallace and Gromit and famous the world over, and now Yorkshire’s Wensleydale cheese has been awarded official protection by the European Union.
The newly conferred status, which was bestowed after a prolonged campaign by the Yorkshire Post and others, means no other cheese-maker outside the designated area can produce a cheese and call it Yorkshire Wensleydale.
The maker of the crumbly delicacy, the Dales-based Wensleydale Creamery, has finally won its long campaign for Protected Geographical Indication status for its product.
The creamery will now add the PGI symbol to its packaging, reaffirming its true Yorkshire credentials and helping shoppers differentiate it from cheeses made in other counties.
David Hartley, managing director of The Wensleydale Creamery, said: “Our heritage and provenance makes Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese taste truly unique and we’re delighted this is now officially recognised.
“We’d like to thank everyone for their support for our application, including our dedicated staff at The Creamery, our local community and of course our loyal customers in the UK and around the globe.
“There could be no better early Christmas present for the whole team here and it is a great platform to propel us into 2014.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is also the local MP, said: “Achieving PGI status means many things for Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.
“It means more international recognition and more awareness of The Wensleydale Creamery, everybody can see this tremendous mark of quality and it commands national and international respect for this great product.
“Above all, it means that to be Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, you really have to be Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.
“For me, there is no greater delicacy in the world than Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese and fruitcake.
“It has been great to see the business succeed and grow, especially over the last 20 years. The Wensleydale Creamery has become a great place for visitors to Wensleydale, as a tourist attraction, as well as producing this great range of remarkable cheeses.”
Farming Minister George Eustice added: “It’s great to see Yorkshire Wensleydale join the growing number of British products registered under the protected food names scheme, especially at this time of year when the delicious cheese will be an essential item for the festive family cheeseboard.
“PGIs help to keep traditional recipes alive and make a valuable contribution to the local and national economy.”
Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region who settled in Yorkshire.