July Competition – Five Cheese-Filled Cool Bags up for Grabs from Wyke Farms

Less than two weeks to go now until the 120th International Cheese Awards takes place in Nantwich. On Tuesday 25th July, our expert judges will taste a record-breaking 5686 entries in their quest to find this year’s Supreme Champion, and we’re delighted to say that this month’s Twitter competition celebrates the fact that Diane Cox, Technical Director at Wyke Farms, is one of our judges. Read on to find out more about Diane and the fine art of cheese grading, as well as how to get your hands on one of five great prizes this month.

Traditional Cheddar from the Heart of Somerset

From a Somerset pre-school farm girl to a successful female cheese grader, Diane is only one of a handful of women in the UK who can call themselves a Master Cheese Grader in what is still a very male-dominated industry.

Di took over from her well-known predecessor Nigel “the Nose” Pooley last summer, after shadowing him for over 10 years. Although she is not the only female to grade cheese at Wyke Farms; still family-run, Grandmother Ivy Clothier started the cheese-making business over 150 years ago and graded her cheeses every week to ensure they were maturing well.

Today, Di plays a crucial role in Wyke Farms’ farm to fork story – from milk straight from the farm, all the way through to the moment their cheese is packed, grading over 100 cheeses every week.

With a talent for predicting the future of cheese development, Di’s cheese-grading flair almost has mythical status – being able to smell, taste and predict the cheeses flavours in 18 months or two years’ time makes her somewhat of a cheese fortune teller!

“Cheese is a living thing and there are many variables that can affect the flavours in the finished cheese, like the cow’s diets, the area the milk has come from, the season and how the cheese is produced so attention to detail is key,” says Di. “Through the grading process each cheese is first assessed visually, then the aromas are assessed followed by how the cheese feels and finally tastes, which allows us to assess how the cheese is maturing.” Diane’s ability to do all the above is a skill which takes years and lots of dedication to learn.

Even after the cheese has matured, Di has an eye for quality and spends lots her spare time helping to judge at cheese shows across the country. This year she will share her passion with other cheese-loving judges at the International Cheese Awards, where there’s certainly going to be more than enough cheese to try!

Find out more about Somerset cheese-makers Wyke Farms on their website, which you can find at www.wykefarms.com.

Enter our July Competition with Wyke Farms

To celebrate Di’s involvement at #ICA 2017 as well as over 150 years of award-winning cheese making (that’s Wyke, not Di!), we have five Wyke Farms cool bags to give away, filled with Wyke Farms Cheddar as well as chutney and biscuits.

To be in with a chance of winning one of these great prizes, keep an eye on our Twitter feed (@iCheeseAwards) for one of the special competition tweets over the coming week, then simply retweet and make sure you’re following both us and @wykefarms. Winner will be drawn at random at 6pm on Wednesday 19th July - UK residents only please. Good luck everyone!