Meet Ernie Durose
We sent our photographer to Grange Farm in Leigh, home to Ernie Durose and his herd of Guernsey cows to find out more about the delicious cheeses he produces on farm.
A little history.
Ernie’s grandfather established the Guernsey herd at Grange Farm in 1955 and the generations prior had always farmed and lived around Leigh, a picturesque little village in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside.
It was in 2009 Ernie was keen to expand the milks versatility and diversified into developing a hard cheese at a local cheese maker's premises. The results were so successful that during the following year a purpose built cheese making facility was created on the farm. The ethos of Guernsleigh cheese brand is from ‘The grass to the Plate’.
The Guernsleigh Cheeses.
Since then a range of soft and creamy cheeses have been developed which Guernsey milk is particularly suited to. Guernsey cows produce a uniquely coloured (golden) and flavoured creamy milk which can be seen and tasted across the range of Guernsleigh cheeses. An added benefit of only using 100% A2 milk is that it has become an acceptable alternative to people who normally follow a non-dairy diet.
Ernie is continuing to develop ideas for new cheeses and flavours that enhance the herds Guernsey milk. On our visit into the cheese fridge a newly developed port cheddar was maturing, ready for the Christmas market and a Gin & Rhubarb flavoured cheese is currently being developed.
80% of the milk produced on the farm goes into the range of specialist cheeses. The remainder gets sold off to enhance other milk products. The farm makes brie for Golden Cheshire Brie and Brymor Brie in Yorkshire. Ernie supplies a range of his Guernsleigh cheeses to various stockists including, Hartington Cheese Shop, Mo’s Deli in Stone, Bakewell Cheese Shop and regularly attends the Bakewell and Stone Farmers Markets.
The Golden Brie is the best seller and Ernie has won many awards for his range of Guernsey cheeses including, 2 x gold awards at the South West Cheese Awards, a Bronze and Silver Award at Bath and Royal West Show and a Bronze and Silver Award for his plain and smoked brie at the International Nantwich Show.
About the herd and the Cheese Making Facility
Ernie currently milks 30 cows and is planning to add another 20 to his herd as demand for his specialist cheeses rises. He also is planning on adding a new member of staff to the business, a student or trainee.
All of the cows are milked on a GEA robotic milker system which is carefully monitored by Ernie. A guided tour of the purpose built cheese making facility was fascinating. A biomass (wood pellet) boiler is used to pasteurise and heat the milk. It also heats the rest of the farm and farm house along with the solar panels. An extremely eco friendly way to process the milk into cheese. For the smoked varieties of cheeses, oak briquettes are used to add the smokey flavour. Once the cheeses are made they are then moved into the refrigerated cheese store to ripen some are wrapped in protective plastic shells whilst others are left to mature naturally.
All of the Guernsleigh Cheese range is available at local farmers markets, retail outlets and by post.