In August 1914 – 105 years ago – Edward Ernest Padfield took on 240 acres of farmland where his wife started making cheddar cheese after milking a small herd of Shorthorn cows by hand. This year, The Bath Soft Cheese Company, today run by the 4th generation of the Padfield family, was proud to accept the supreme championship award at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards held in Nantwich, England.
On the farm, excellent milk quality plays a vital role in the production of their winning cheese. The cows average 7,441 litres per cow per year at 3.97% butterfat and 3.24% protein. The 165 Holstein Friesians are currently producing 3,500 litres per day, which roughly totals 1.2 million litres of milk per year. The herd grazes in the organic pastures around the farm with a Brown Swiss bull and produce 4,178 litres from forage.
“Approximately 2,000 to 2,500 litres of organic milk per day goes into making the cheese here at the farm,” said managing director Hugh Padfield. “Our own milk supplies our cafe and some local cafes and delis. We also encourage customers to visit the farm and get it fresh from our milk machine.”
During the competition judges were impressed by the family’s Wyfe of Bath cheese which takes its name from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and is a semi-hard cheese which is very creamy and nutty with hints of caramel. The company was presented with a total of 6 awards at the show, including best washed rind cheese and best speciality cheese for their Merry Wyfe and The Bath Soft Cheese winners of best English cheese and best soft cheese with rind.
At their dairy, visitors can enjoy a tour of the cheese making facilities, the milking parlour and the Wyfe Room where thousands of cheeses sit waiting to mature to the perfect flavour. The company believes that exceptional quality organic milk is the key to their success.
The Padfields are no strangers to cheese success; back in 2014 their Bath Blue won the World Cheese Awards. This year, the team is delighted with their accomplishment. “We are absolutely thrilled. To win supreme champion at the International Cheese Awards is an achievement that every cheesemaker dreams of, and for a small rural business like ours it’s incredible,” said Mr Padfield.
“The Nantwich International Cheese Awards is the biggest cheese show in the world, so this is the equivalent of winning the World Cup. We have a fantastic team who make all the cheese by hand, and we could not hope for better recognition for the hard work put in from milking our cows to making the cheese,” he added, noting that future plans for the farm involve investing in 50kw solar panels, 300kw boilers and possibly an anaerobic digester.