Much of the success of Whitestone’s Vintage Windsor Blue cheese comes down to North Otago milk, with the cows grazing off grass from limestone soils, says chief executive Simon Berry.
Highly commended over the years for their traditional Dutch style cheeses, this year it is the Meyer’s innovation with new cheeses that has set them apart from hundreds of other entrants.
Meyer Gouda Cheese won a slew of medals and four category Champion Awards; topped up with the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award (commercial) for its Meyer smoked goat gouda.
Master cheese judge Russell Smith described it as “a gorgeous goat cheese, and a pleasure to eat”.
‘The Countdown Champion of Champions (commercial) cheese winner has a smooth creamy texture that delights the palate with sweet and mild piquant flavours,” he adds.
The winning cheese has been made and sold in New Zealand no more than 12 months.
“2017 has been a surprise…. We are not known for making goat’s milk cheeses yet these have been selected as the heroes of the awards,” says Meyer cheese manager Miel Meyer.
“My brother Geert, our head cheese maker, is chuffed to see these cheeses do so well in this year’s competition.
“Most of our cheese making is with cow’s milk from our own herd, so working with goat’s milk is a relatively new thing for us. Winning this supreme award for excellence in cheese making is an awesome reward for his effort.”
The company also won four gold medals and took championship titles: 180 degrees Champion Goat Cheese Award for the Meyer Goat Milk Gouda; AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese for Meyer Fenugreek; MPI Champion New Cheese Award for Meyer Smoked Goat Gouda; and Brancott Estate Wines Champion Flavoured Cheese Award for the Meyer Smoked Gouda.
It also won six silver medals for its Sheepmilk Gouda, Vintage Gouda, Cumin Gouda, Amsterdammer, Smoked Goat Gouda and Cracked Pepper. It won bronze for Meyer Tasty Gouda and Meyer Cumin with Cloves. To date the Meyer family has won 83 medals.
“Quality has always come first; we have always been focused on quality over quantity and we are proud of our consistency,” says Miel Meyer.
The Meyer family hails from a small village in the south of the Netherlands. The founders, and parents to the next generation of cheese makers -- Ben and Fieke Meyer – were inspired while visiting a monastery in Postel where monks made handmade cheese.
When the Meyer’s came to NZ in 1984 they built a cheese factory on 2ha at Hautapu, between Hamilton and Cambridge.
Miel began making cheese while still young, winning NZ Cheesemaker of the Year in 2011. He was the youngest cheese maker in the history of the competition.
“Success at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards is a good feeling for the whole Meyer family and makes all those long hard days more worthwhile,” he says.
The Meyers make about 50 tonnes of Gouda a year, most of it sold in supermarkets and cheese shops.