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Virtual Cheese Awards shakes up cheese judging as it launches for a third year

The UK’s first and only 100% online cheese awards which supports and celebrates the best of British cheese, is back for a third year.

The Virtual Cheese Awards’ LIVE final will be held on Friday 13th May 2022 with entries across a range of classes from Best British Stilton to Best British Cheddar, now open. Entries close on 20th March 2022.

The Virtual Cheese Awards is shaking up the way traditional cheese competitions are held where 100s of judges gather behind closed doors to rate and review cheeses in secret. The few lucky winners are announced at the end but there is very little feedback for producers on how their cheese has fared, good or bad.

The Virtual Cheese Awards is different. It has a completely open and transparent judging process which is all shared online. Its panel of esteemed cheese judges say it how it is and offer valuable and thoughtful feedback on every single cheese.

Sarah de Wit, co-founder of Virtual Cheese Awards said: “Knowledge is power and for the British cheese industry to continue thriving, we need to arm producers with solid, informed feedback on their products. Cheesemakers pour their hearts into carefully crafting, maturing and testing their cheese so it can be frustrating to be left in the dark when the cheeses are entered into awards.

The Virtual Cheese Awards aim to lift-the-lid on the secret world of judging as well as showcase the immense amount of creativity in our amazing British cheese industry. Whether its brand-new cheeses, classic British territorials and chedars, twists on traditional or continental styles or great examples of British handmade artisan cheese, we want to celebrate them all.”

The 2021 Best British Cheese was awarded to an innovative Spanish-inspired fresh cow’s milk cheese, La Fresca Margarita produced by Somerset-based Fetham’s Farm.

Joint silver was awarded to Harvey & Brockless by Cellar Dairy for its goats cheese Blanche and Butler’s Farmhouse Cheeses for its oak-fired Red Leicester Smouldering Ember. Wyke Farms was awarded bronze with its Ivy’s Reserve Vintage Cheddar.

The five-hour final of the pioneering cheese awards was hosted by BBC broadcaster and local food and drink champion, Nigel Barden and was beamed online to 1000s of cheese fans who watched the cheese action unfold.

Entries to the 2022 Virtual Cheese Awards are open now and close on 20th March 2022. The live final will again be hosted by Nigel Barden and will take place on Friday 13th May 2022.

The Virtual Cheese Awards Best of British cheese prize includes:

· Free editorial features and digital coverage in Speciality Food magazine and Great British Food magazine worth £4,000

· Opportunity to have the winning cheese showcased at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair by the VCA team worth approximately £5,000

· A Level 1 Academy of Cheese courses and a year’s subscription worth over £300

· A pair of return Eurostar tickets

Sponsors, partners and friends of the Virtual Cheese Award 2021 are:

  • Speciality Food Magazine - Headline media partner

  • Great British Food Magazine – Headline media partner

  • Sharpham – Event Facilitation Partner

  • Speciality & Fine Food Fair – Event Partner and sponsor of Best Speciality Cheese

  • ALPMA GB Ltd – Artisan Farm Milk award

  • Wyke Farm - Trophy for Sustainability

  • Harvey & Brockless - Best Cheddar Cheese

  • The Cheese Man – Best Blue Cheese

  • ALPMA Ltd – Best Stilton Cheese

  • Ablebox – Best Vintage Traditional Cheese

  • The Dairy House – Best Organic Hard Cheese

  • JKM Foods – Best External White Mould Cheese

Additional supporters

· Academy of Cheese – Friend of the VCA and prize partner

· Specialist Cheesemakers Association – Charity partner

· Taste of the West – Affiliate Partner

· Good Sense Research – Judging Officiation partner

· Butlers Farmhouse Cheese – Apron Sponsor

For more information on the Virtual Cheese Awards log on to:

Social pages:

· Facebook - Virtual Cheese Awards

· YouTube – Virtual Cheese Awards

· Instagram - @Virtualcheeseawards

- Ends –

Notes to editors

The Virtual Cheese Awards were founded in 2020 to help support and celebrate British cheesemakers who were struggling in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Co-Founder, Sarah de Wit, saw multiple challenges to the dairy industry as producers struggled to produce and sell their stock resulting in milk being poured down drains and cheese being given away for free. This focus on survival also impacted on innovation, as new cheese launches were postponed.

The awards have grown steadily in the last two years with over 300 individual entries from across the British cheese industry in the 2021 awards and thousands of people logging on to see live cheese judging and the winning cheeses announced.

The Virtual Awards team consists of founder Sarah de Wit, Vickie Rogerson marketing and PR, Kara Bowen sponsorship manager and Jeremy Bowen sponsorship manager.

2021 winners and finalists

The winners of Best of British cheese across the final seven categories were;

· Best of British and Best Speciality Cheese – Feltham’s Farm for La Fresca Margarita

· Best Cheddar Cheese – Wyke Farms for Ivy’s Reserve Vintage cheddar

· Best Territorial Cheese – South Caernarfon Creameries for Double Gloucester

· Best Blue Cheese – Jones Cheese for Tysul Blue

· Best Enhanced Cheese – Butler’s Farmhouse Cheeses for Smouldering Ember

· Best Artisan Hard Cheese – Fred W Read & Sons for Lincolnshire Poacher

· Best Artisan Soft Cheese – Harvey & Brockless and Cheese Cellar for Blanche

· Best Artisan Cheese from Farms Own Herd was won by Lincolnshire Poacher

· Best Welsh cheese was won by South Caernarfon Creameries for Double Gloucester

· Best English Cheese was won by Feltham’s Farm for La Fresca Margarita

· Best Scottish Cheese was won by J & C Reade for Hebridean Blue

Recognising Excellence -

  • Trophy for Sustainability (sponsored by Wyke Farms) won by Isle of Mull Cheese (Brendan Reade)

  • Young Cheesemaker of the year (sponsored by Dairy UK) won by Ryan Gee from Hartington Creamery

  • Cheese Hero (sponsored by Davidstow Cheddar) won by Shepherd’s Purse Cheese

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