CHAMPION boutique WA businesses have shared the main Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Dairy and Alternative Dairy Awards in the lead up to the 2018 IGA Perth Royal Show from Saturday, September 22 to Saturday, September 29.
Cambray Cheese, a small family-operated business producing a range of hand-made cheeses from sheep and cows’ milk on a farm in a forest 12 kilometres north of Nannup, claimed the Champion Dairy Product award.
Owners Jane and Bruce Wilde – Jane is the cheese maker and Bruce manages and milks their flock of East Friesian ewes – repeated history by claiming the award with a non-bovine product.
Cambray’s matured, firm sheep-milk cheese variety Farmhouse Gold won the top RAS dairy product award after two days of judging last month, as it did in 2006 when it became the first non-bovine product to do so.
Last year, as reported in Farm Weekly, it also became the first non-bovine product to win the Dairy Industry Australia Association WA’s Grand Champion Dairy Product award.
As well as overall best product at this year’s RAS dairy awards, the 12 judges appraised Farmhouse Gold as the Champion Cheese, beating strong competition from other local boutique and mainstream Victorian and Tasmanian cheese makers.
Farmhouse Gold also repeated last year’s win as Champion Buffalo, Camel, Goat and Sheep Milk Product.
It also won a gold award, along with Blackwood and Boursan varieties, for Cambray in the individual cheese classes of the competition, while Cambray’s Marinated Sheep Feta won a silver award and its Mount Folly and Havarti varieties won bronze awards.
Jane Wilde said the three champion wins were greatly appreciated after a return to competitions last year following an absence of many years due mainly to the time and cost involved in entering.
“I’m actually going through some withdrawal symptoms at the moment – I haven’t made any cheese for three weeks,” Ms Wilde said last week.
“We’re renovating, including repainting the floor of the cheese room so I haven’t been able to get in there.
“We’re lambing at the moment so it’s not too bad, we’ve only got about 40 (ewes) milking, but we’ll be launching back into it (cheese production) very soon.”
For the second year in a row, Denmark’s Dellendale Creamery and its Swiss-trained artisan cheese maker and owner Chris Vogel won the Best Small Cheese Maker special award.
Mr Vogel, a former dairy farmer turned cheese maker, buys milk to make his cheeses from neighbours Malcolm and Kellee Hick who pioneered a robotic dairy on the South Coast.
Last year’s special award win was his first time entering the RAS dairy awards.
Mt Vogel produces a range of cheeses on his own with only a part-time person to help wrap them.
His Triple Cream Brie, Somerset Hill Cheddar, Torndirrup Appenzelle, Torndirrup Native Herb and Churchill Rd Raclette won gold awards, his Peaceful Bay Gruyere won silver and his Shadforth Tilsit won bronze this year.
Only one RAS champion cheese award went outside WA this year – to King Island Dairy, Tasmania, which won Champion Bovine Cheese with its Roaring Forties Blue variety.
A second special award, Best Small Other Dairy Product Maker, was won by Gabriel Chocolate, Yallingup.
Mundella Foods won Champion Yoghurt for the third consecutive year, with its Greek Honey flavour this year, and York Ice Cream Co won Champion Ice Cream for the fourth year in a row, with its Jarrah Honey ice cream this year.
Helena Valley family business Mimmo’s Gourmet Gelato reclaimed the Champion Gelato award, having won it in 2016.
Mimmo’s also won Champion Sorbet in the alternative dairy awards section of the competition.
Parmalat’s Harvey Fresh division won both unflavoured and flavoured Champion Milk awards with its Jersey Girl and Oak Iced Coffee products.
Champion Butter was won by Ha Ve Harvey Cheese, Wokalup, for its cultured Chive and Garlic butter.
More than 500 products from WA and interstate were judged in 59 dairy classes and 28 alternative dairy classes as part of the RAS competition.
It was the first time separate competition classes have been held for alternative dairy products.