Godminster cheddar, the award-winning cheese that has reached cult status in the West Country, began its life almost by accident.
Richard Hollingberry had spent several years achieving a long held dream to make his dairy farm near Bruton 100 per cent organic. He decided to use the first batch of organic milk to make some cheese as a present for the friends and family who had helped him along the way. Incredibly that first prototype – with its distinctive punchy but creamy flavour– was so good that the Godminster brand was born.
That was back in 2001 and, as with many artisan success stories, Godminster started small by selling its signature cheese at Wincanton Farmer’s market. As its fanbase grew Godminster began to sell to a network of farmer's markets and food fairs across the UK and the distinctive cheese is also stocked at high end foodie emporiums such as Harrods Food Hall.
Richard attributes the brand’s success to his belief in keeping things simple.
‘I strongly believe it’s more about what you don’t do than what you do. We don’t use chemicals or fertilisers and we use homeopathy to treat the cows. We have happy cows and happy cows make happy milk, it’s a cliché but it’s true.’
The Godminster mission is to create an entirely self-sufficient farm which utilises every natural resource and carefully replenishes its own ecosystem.
It's this circular vision which inspired Richard to branch out into flavoured vodka, admittedly a slightly bizarre pairing with cheese.
Richard says: 'We had a bumper crop of horseradish one year and I like Bloody Mary's so horseradish vodka was an obvious leap.'
Richard ships in organic vodka from the distillers London and Scottish International and then messes about in his kitchen, infusing the spirit with whatever he has a surplus of on the farm. To date his successes - all sold online - include Horseradish, Blackcurrant, Cucumber, Sloe, Quince and Rhubarb.
Godminster also sells a trendily packaged box set of horseradish vodka and tomato juice mix entitled Bloody Good Mary. Like the beautiful heart shaped waxed cheeses and the skinny, uber-cool vodka bottles, the Godminster brand cannily combines pure ingredients with cutting edge design.
And it is undoubtably this distinctive blend of tradtional and modern that accounts for Godminster's growing success.