12 Nov 2023
Trethowan’s Dairy – Producer of the Month
10 Apr 2023
One of our most sought-after cheeses is Gorwydd Caerphilly. Though Gorwydd began life in Wales, it’s now made in North Somerset at Puxton Court Farm. Despite the fact it’s no longer made in Wales, we just had to stock it. It’s a traditional rinded Caerphilly which has a string of awards to its name.
So, who are the producers behind one of Wales’s most famous cheeses?
Trethowan’s Dairy are comprised of Todd and Maugan Trethowan, two brothers who started making cheese in West Wales over 20 years ago. They produce the award winning organic and unpasteurised Gorwydd Caerphilly as well as a Cheddar called Pitchfork.
The famous Gorwydd Caerphilly is matured for longer than an average farmhouse Caerphilly, giving it a unique depth of flavour. It has a firm, lemony, lactic core and a creamy, more savoury layer just beneath the earthy grey rind – known as the ‘breakdown’. Caerphilly can be sold at just a few days old, but Gorwydd is matured for six to twelve weeks in storerooms, carefully monitored for temperature and humidity, until it grows a mould rind about 5mm thick. The Caerphilly ripens from the outside in, so you get a softer mushroomy-tasting layer in the breakdown. Once you get to the whiter centre, it will appear much firmer, zingier and crumbly in texture. These complex flavours have helped Gorwydd win many awards, including Golds at the British Cheese Awards, the Artisan Cheese Awards and the International Cheese Awards.
The Trethowan Brothers
Todd Trethowan began his love-affair with cheese when working a summer job at Neal’s Yard Dairy in the 1990’s whilst studying archaeology. He loved it so much that he moved to Wales for an apprenticeship with artisan cheesemaker Dougal Campbell, to make a cheese called Tyn Grug. Todd’s family owned Growydd farm, a hill sheep farm near Lladdewi Brefi in the Teifi Valley Ceredigion. Todd believed that living on a sheep farm, he would produce ewes milk cheese. However, Jane Scotter of Neal’s Yard Dairy suggested that there was a gap in the market for a traditional Welsh Caerphilly. Taking this advice on board, Todd travelled to Somerset to learn from Caerphilly cheesemaker Chris Duckett, whose family had been making cheese since the 1920’s.
For six months Todd lived alone in a caravan in a field next to the dairy, while he learnt the art of cheese making. He returned to Gorwydd farm following a few more apprenticeships to start making Gorwydd Caerphilly with his brother, Maugan. The brothers started their dairy in a small stone outbuilding on the farm where they began experimenting with what has now become Gorwydd. They painstakingly experimented with each stage of the cheesemaking process, including allowing the cheese extra time to mature, comparing results along the way.
From Wales to Somerset
In 2014, Todd and Maugan moved to Somerset. One of the reasons for the move was Somerset’s quality dairy farming and proximity to a wonderful herd of pedigree Holstein-Friesian and Jersey cows. These cows give a uniquely flavoured milk with an extra creamy content thanks to the Jersey’s rich milk. The other reason was that after more than ten years, they had outgrown their modest farm buildings at their family farm and needed to upgrade their facilities.
In order to successfully move the business, they not only had to think about equipment and stock, but also ensuring that they created the right environment for the cheese to mature in. They had to transport precious molds and hundreds of unwashed cheese boards which were then left in the store rooms to populate the new maturing environment with friendly spores. Within a couple of months they were able to see the fruits of their labour with new cheeses taking on grey-green bloomy rinds.
The Production Process
The cheese production is a long, varied and physically demanding process. Each day the milk is piped directly to the dairy. Every stage of the cheese making process is carried out by hand by a team of experienced cheese makers using traditional methods and tools. This involves careful managing of timings, temperatures, preparation for the next day plus milk deliveries, constant feeding of starter cultures and more. The cheese is then packed by hand into moulds and matured for 6 to 12 weeks so it can develop it’s signature earthy rind.
If you want to try Gorwydd for yourself, follow the link below.
It is also included in many of our celebrations cakes!