By Chelsea Boyle
Two Wairarapa cheese producers have shone in the New Zealand Cheese Awards, with both The Drunken Nanny and Kingsmeade getting nods from the judges.
It was a case of déjà vu for the Martinborough couple behind The Drunken Nanny, as their goat’s cheeses collected the same number of silver and bronze medals as they had the year before.
The Drunken Nanny’s cheesemaker Amanda Goodman said she was very proud to be able to put the medal stickers on their products.
‘Fresh Lush’, ‘Black Tie’ and ‘Savvy Washed Rind’ were all awarded silvers, and ‘Dill Lush’ was awarded the bronze.
Mrs Goodman and her husband Lindsey started milking their goats to diversify, adding another facet to their sheep and beef farm.
Their venture started off quietly with 25 milking does in 2015 but these numbers have quickly expanded to about 80.
Milking and cheese making alike are done onsite, and the couple believe this contributes to the clean, sweet and mild flavours.
Within three days customers had a very fresh mild goats cheese, Mrs Goodman said.
The goats have become a part of the Goodman family.
“We have three children who love playing with them,” Mrs Goodman said.
They had to add a new category at the Kahutara School pet day just for the goats, the couple said.
Mrs Goodman said the support from the community and from local chefs was fantastic.
The Drunken Nanny’s Fresh Lush was used by chef Marc Soper as his Wairarapa ingredient in the Plate of Origin competition held in Palmerston North.
Mrs Goodman said the next challenge they faced was extending their milking season.
Kingsmeade was another big winner at the New Zealand Cheese Awards.
‘Castlepoint Feta’ and ‘Robiolino’ won silver awards, and ‘Opaki Manchego’ and ‘Solway Stracchino’ won bronze awards.
Masterton’s Janet and Miles King started making their Kingsmeade cheeses using the milk from their east friesian sheep flock in the late 90s.
Mrs King said they set out to explore the properties of sheep’s milk cheese, believing it was a “superior milk”.
The pair were pioneers in their field.
Back then all the information about making cheese from sheep’s milk had to come from the northern hemisphere, Mrs King said.
“Our primary range of cheeses came from sheep and subsequently we realized that we had a wonderful market also in the Wairarapa for cow’s milk, so we took the cow’s milk on board and we have been making both kinds of cheeses for the past 20 years.”
During that time they have been no stranger to success.
Their ‘Sunset Blue’ was sampled by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a cheeseboard in 2014.
Mrs King said she was pleased with how they placed at the awards.
“It’s very, very hard to beat the absolute brilliant Dutch cheesemakers. They are superb cheesemakers. They have been making cheese for thousands of years and they know how to present the product.”
Today the couple produce between 18 and 20 tonne of cheese per year.
Mrs King said people who had never tried sheep’s milk cheese should stop by their shop in Lansdowne.
Both The Drunken Nanny and Kingsmeade have been included in the Outstanding Producer Dairy Finalists for 2017.