Meet the Maker: Torpenhow Cheese Company
It’s not often you’re lucky enough to find an independent food and drink producer creating exceptional products but still little known. ‘Hidden gem’ springs to mind. Because that’s exactly what Barbury Hill’s latest producer is, a gem. Meet Torpenhow Cheese Company. Unless you’re based in Cumbria, or have holidayed there, chances are the name may be unfamiliar. But not for long. This cheese company is the latest addition to our new Barbury Boxes and having tasted their organic Three Hills Brie, we’re confident it’s going to be a popular one.
A family-run farm for generations
Torpenhow Cheese Company hails from Park House Farm on the Northern Fells in Cumbria. And to save you from making the same mistake we did, it’s pronounced ‘Tra-pen-ner’. The farm has been in the family for generations, but only turned to cheese in 2019 in order to turn the rich free-range milk from their herd of Jersey and Friesian cows, into the creamy, rich cheese the family loved. And that love of cheese is evident in every delicious bite, along with what we’re sure are notes of fresh meadow air. But more on the cheese later, let’s explore the farm.
Organic and Sustainable
As with so many of Barbury Hill’s small food and drink businesses, Torpenhow is dedicated to maintaining and protecting the beautiful landscapes that surround and support them. They began their organic journey in 2017, cutting all use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides before converting to full organic status on 18th June 2020.
Planting nitrogen fixing plants like chicory and clover allows them to naturally fix it in the soil for the grasses. They allow the grasses and plants a chance to recover by grazing one paddock at a time and those paddocks are beautifully bisected by 4km of native hedgerows that provide shelter and much needed wildlife corridors. With as much as 50% of hedgerows lost in some parts of the UK since the Second World War, this is much needed conservation.
Torpenhow also manages 25 acres of Atlantic Woodland on the farm, along with the streams which run through the land. By fencing off areas of the farm which are unproductive and wet, they’re able to provide larger areas for woodland regeneration, again providing much needed habitat for wildlife.
Happy Cows = Happy Customers
Barbury Hill works with producers and small food businesses who prioritise animal welfare, and Torpenhow Cheese Company is no exception. Their creamy milk is testament to the chilled-out nature of their herd, and that’s no surprise when you see them grazing happily on the grasses, herbs and legumes of the paddocks. In fact, they’re there for over 300 days of the year, enjoying the sun on their backs as nature intended.
By building tracks that allow the cows to reach the paddocks even in rain, they’ve worked tirelessly to make those cows as happy as can be. Their next step is to introduce a flock of free range chickens as this has been shown to improve the soil quality further. We’ll certainly be booking a visit to watch the chickens following after the cows in a what’s bound to be a beautifully bucolic scene.
So now you know all there is to know about Torpenhow Cheese Company, let’s tell you about the cheese. And a glorious thing it is too. That rich, creamy milk from the Jersey and Fresian herd is milked and made into cheese on the farm, with farm house, milking parlour and cheese room all at the heart of the farmland. So that’s minimal transport and unnecessary journeys, which all benefits the cows and the environment.
Their Three Hills Brie is a particular favourite and we knew it would make the perfect addition to the Black Cow Cheddar and Sinodun Hill Goats Cheese from Norton & Yarrow. Meltingly creamy, this organic cheese has the classic nutty flavour of brie in its white rind, which opens to reveal a buttery soft interior with a delicate sweetness that’s balanced by citrus notes. No two cheeses are the same, with the seasons and the cows' diets imparting slight variations in flavour throughout the year.
Like so many of Barbury Hill’s cheese, this one’s another award-winner, taking Best New Cheesemaker in the Recognising Excellence Awards 2022 category of the Virtual Cheese Awards 2022. We predict it won’t be long before Torpenhow has a trophy cabinet full of medals.
Torpenhow Cheese Company in Barbury Boxes
If thinking of Torpenhow’s decadently creamy brie has you craving that soft spread of nutty, citrus notes on a cracker, look no further than the Barbury Box. These have been flying out of the door as gifts for hosts, friends, family or colleagues and we’ve been delighted by the glowing feedback. This latest addition to the British cheese selection from independent cheesemakers can be found with Peter’s Yard Sourdough Crackers in the Best of British Summer Cheese Collection and all that plus Apple Chutney and a platter of cured meats by Chiltern Charcuterie in the Best of British Charcuterie and Cheese Collection.
Discover this hidden gem today, we’re confident you’ll love it as much as we did!
Three Hills Brie is available as 230gsm rounds and is a great addition to any cheeseboard or for spreading on warm crusty bread, and a delicious companion when accompanying stronger flavours such as cured meats, olives and antipasti.
by Dan, Barbury Hill Founder
Dan founded Barbury Hill and he is the man behind our mission to shine a light on the best of British food and drink. He loves wine, cider and small batch cheese. And every producer on Barbury Hill.