A smallholding in Rosedale has come out top in a national cheese award scheme, less than a year after starting to make goats cheese.

Suzie Birrel-Gray, who owns of Abbey Farm Cottage with her husband Jonty, was crowned ‘New Cheese Maker of the Year 2024’ in this year’s Virtual Cheese Awards, which were created in 2020 by dairy consultant Sarah de Wit to make the judging process completely transparent by broadcasting the judge’s comments live online.

Over 200 British cheeses were entered into the fifth year of the awards representing a variety of types including blue, cheddar, speciality and artisan cheese.

Suzie won the newcomer category with her artisan Rosedale soft cheeses using raw milk from her own herd of Golden Guernsey and British Guernsey goats. She also picked up a joint first in one of the gold class categories with both her Rosedale cheese and the blue variety called Bell End, named after the last part of Rosedale village where you would once have heard the bell toll.

Suzie said: “Jonty and I are absolutely delighted to win such a meaningful accolade just six months after gaining the necessary approval to produce our cheese. It makes all the hard work we’ve put into the business worthwhile. We’re passionate about goats cheese making and reflecting the beauty of Rosedale in the cheeses we produce and this has given us more confidence to continue what we’re doing.”

The Virtual Cheese Awards LIVE final took place over two days hosted by BBC broadcaster and local food and drink champion, Nigel Barden.

As well as producing artisan cheeses, Suzie also runs cheese-making courses and goat yoga sessions.

For more information go to abbeyfarmcottagerosedale.com