Wensleydale is big cheese in world awards

Mike Waites WALLACE and Gromit's favourite Wensleydale cheese has been voted among the best in the world.

The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes yesterday picked up seven medals and a special trophy in the World Cheese Awards in London.

The company won a special trophy, sponsored by Fortnum & Mason, for Best English Cheese for its Traditional Wensleydale. It received three gold medals for its Real Traditional Wensleydale, Real Blue Wensleydale and Traditional Red Leicester.

It won a further two silver medals for its Traditional Double Gloucester and White Cheshire and two bronze medals for its Special Reserve Real Wensleydale and its Wensleydale and onion and chive blended cheese.

Managing director David Hartley said: "All our cheeses are made by hand to time-honoured traditional recipes. This quality has clearly been recognised by the judges and we are delighted to have figured so highly in these prestigious awards."

In 1992 the 100-year-old creamery was in danger of closing, along with the threat that virtually all Wensleydale Cheese production would move out of its traditional home but a management buy-out saved the business which has expanded to now employ 170 people.

Wensleydale has been made in the area since 1150, when the Cistercian monks first settled in the dale and established a monastery at Fors, near Hawes.

The art of cheese-making was passed down to local farmers who continued to produce the cheese in their own farmhouses.

Production has received a dramatic boost around the world thanks to the popularity of the Wensleydale-munching cartoon characters Wallace and Gromit.