Since this is made in Hampshire, it’s officially a bit outside our area, but we’re bending the rules because Tunworth is a Camembert style cheese in a class of its own. In fact Raymond Blanc has called it “the best Camembert in the world”, which is some accolade! I tried this back in about 2007 when it had just come out and thought it was good then. In the intervening time its reputation has only grown, and since the Westcountry doesn’t have an equivalent, here it is!
In traditional Camembert style, Tunworth is supplied in its own wooden box.
Pasteurised, not vegetarian.
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Hampshire Cheeses is owned by Stacey Hedges and Charlotte Spruce. It was founded in 2005.
Stacey, originally from Sydney Australia, had worked part-time in a cheese shop whilst studying at university and found it inspirational. Twenty years later with an English husband and three young children she found herself living in rural Hampshire and her thoughts returned to that Sydney cheese shop.
Stacey began making cheese in her kitchen before it soon became clear that she would need a purpose-built creamery to fulfil her dream. From the start, Randolph Hodgson, owner of Neal's Yard Dairy, gave her tremendous support and advice. He encouraged her to make a soft cow's milk cheese with a delicious depth of flavour covered by a delicate, thin rind.
In May 2006, Hampshire Cheeses moved into its first tiny creamery and in September of the same year, Tunworth became Britain's Supreme Champion Cheese at the British Cheese Awards beating more than 800 other cheeses. It was a truly astonishing result for such a small and young company.
Further success followed in many areas including winning Waitrose's Small Producer of the year and a gold medal in the World Cheese awards.
In 2010 Hampshire Cheeses expanded into a new purpose-built creamery a mile down the road from its original home in the village of Herriard. Today Charlotte Spruce, who joined the company in 2006, is the head cheesemaker and is in charge of production. Charlotte came from a restaurant management background and she now manages the small team that work hard to make sure Tunworth remains as delicious as ever.
Tunworth continues to be made by hand in small batches. Hampshire cheeses now has the space to ripen the cheeses slowly and mature them before sending the cheese out to their customers.
Hampshire Cheeses continues to flourish and employ local people and support the local farming community.
In 2011 the company was awarded the CPRE Hampshire rural Enterprise Award for Tunworth and its sustainable approach to the local community.
"We were very impressed with the way that the company works to strengthen the community, through employing local people and encouraging students. Hampshire Cheeses' creamery was built inside the walls of an old cattle barn, giving it a new function and lease of life. Their cheese has won many accolades and is a great advert for Hampshire produce and rural enterprise."