The Dorset Blue Vinny cheese that we all know today, has evolved over time leaving behind it, a very unusual history. From being handmade by the farmer's wife in the kitchen, to being banned entirely, Dorset Blue Vinny is a unique cheese surrounded by myth and legend...!
Traditionaly, the farmers’ wife made the cheese each morning in the farmhouse kitchen, using left over milk after the cream had been skimmed off to make butter. As a result, it had a very crumbly, dry texture and a much lower fat content than many other cheeses of that time. It's said to have been the favourite cheese of author, Thomas Hardy, and is often mentioned in his novels.
Because the cheese was hand made in the farmhouse, it has a wonderful array of stories behind the ‘blueing processes’ (how they made the mould grow). Some farmers would drag mouldy horse harnesses through the fresh milk to start the blueing, or store the maturing cheeses next to farmer’s dirty boots to encourage the mould to grow, whereas others took an even more unusual approach and used slugs and slug slime! We're sure you'll be glad to know, we no longer use these methods today, but make a great modern day interpretation of the cheese.
Dorset Blue Vinny became increasingly difficult to source after the Second World War as production had almost entirely died out- some even say Dorset Blue Vinny was once 'banned' altogether and illegal to make, sell or eat. This made way for opportunists to sell other blue cheeses under the guise of Dorset Blue Vinny. Legend has it, if you whispered in the right person's ear in the local pub and left money out on your doorstep at night, in the morning a piece of Dorset Blue Vinny would appear in it's place. Other's say that it was sold under the bar in pubs, down the back alleys at night or you could get some from a man who would smuggle it up and down the country in his tiny van. Although some of these stories may simply be made up stories, one thing we do know was that it was very tricky to get your hands on some real Dorset Blue Vinny!
In the early 1980's, Michael Davies decided to try something new to make his dairy farm profitable again and so found a 300 year old recipe for Dorset Blue Vinny. He started off in the farmhouse garage and used the kitchen pantry as a maturing room, turning the walls, floor and even the cornflakes blue with mould. He was soon given an ultimatum by his wife to move out to the old cow byre where we continue to make the cheese today.
Michael spent several months perfecting his techniques until he'd got it just right... then was ready to share his magnificent cheese with the world!
In 1998 we were the first food producer in the country to be awarded PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status for Dorset Blue Vinny and continue to be the only producers today. We still use the same 300 year old recipe that Michael used to start his business almost 40 years ago with only one or two modern twists!
Alongside Dorset Blue Vinny, we also produce a wonderful range of handmade chutneys and seasonal soups, using local and seasonal produce wherever possible.