01 March 2023, 12:49 PM
  • Debbie Priestley of The West Country Cheese Co gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of this proudly West Country-focused business
Behind the counter: The West Country Cheese Co

My husband Nick and I have always been big foodies, and of course, cheese lovers which started from a huge passion for cooking and using and understanding different cheeses in recipes. We started The West Country Cheese Co in 2007 with a small shop and market stall running a couple of times a week in Devon.

Over the following years, the business grew (particularly due to the success of our wedding cheese ‘cakes’) and we ended up expanding the shop and launched online in 2012.

Due to overwhelming demand for our products across the UK, we ended up selling our physical shop at the end of 2014 and started focusing solely online. And at the end of last year, we moved to even bigger premises near Bude to be able to accommodate the ever-increasing number of online orders. Everything we do has a personal touch, from our communication with our customers to the products themselves (handwritten gift cards, hand-tied ribbons/wrapping, bespoke orders etc).

Being based in the West Country certainly helps to give the business a sense of history, heritage and legitimacy – for customers living in other parts of the UK (particularly in areas where there aren’t any local cheeses being made), being able to buy West Country cheeses from a small family business here feels authentic.

Every order is hand-packed by us and we like to think it has a lovely personal feel, so customers really are getting a little piece of the West Country delivered to their door.

We’re geographically close to many of our wonderful cheesemaking suppliers who we have regular contact with, and we’re also grateful that many of our customers who used to visit the shop and market stalls continue to buy from us.

It’s difficult to pick a favourite West Country Cheese as we are so blessed with so many amazing cheesemakers in this area. We find many of our West Country cheeses are popular in our cheese wedding/celebration cakes, because of their large size and sturdy structure, so they can work as great base/mid layers, such as Quickes Mature Cheddar, Devon Oke and Cornish Blue. Also, Lynher Dairy in Cornwall who make Yarg, known for its distinctive green nettle wrapping, looks fabulous as a layer in a cheesecake.

We’re huge fans of White Lake in Somerset who make the fabulous Rachel and Driftwood cheeses. Sharpham Dairy, have certainly honed their craft and they produce not only a fantastic range of cheese but also superb wine. And we were deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Graham Townsend of Vulscombe cheeses. He was an amazing character who would cycle to our nearest village and greet me with a box of his lovely goats cheeses. I also had the honour of spending a fabulous day learning the art of cheesemaking with him.