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Sharpham Cheese, Totnes

An artisan cheese-maker in an idyllic setting right next to the River Dart - perfect for a bucolic day trip with the family.

Weekend Escapes

You get out the wine and crackers, while I tell you about Sharpham, although it’s bound to be on your radar if you love your local cheese. I’d scoffed many a Sharpham Rustic-smothered biscuit before curiosity got the better of me and I followed the brown signs pointing off the hill just out of Totnes and visited. The cheesery is based, you guessed it, on the Sharpham Estate right next to Sharpham Wine – a marriage made in Muddy heaven although the two are separate businesses.

It’s idyllic here. You can peer through the viewing windows and see the truckles ripening, buy Sharpham wine and cheese from the shop, or stop for an al fresco lunch or coffee at the Cellar Door. Or go on a guided wine tour among the vines next to the River Dart which winds around the estate, taste the wines and cheeses, and get pairing recommendations – one to look forward to post-lockdown.

Sharpham has fans far and wide, from local Michelin-starred chefs to Jamie Oliver, and the well-deserved gongs keep flooding in, including in 2019 the UK Supreme Cheese at the Global Cheese Awards for their Washbourne, and British Product of the Year in the Great British Food Awards for their Cremet). Their new baby is the Sharpham Rustic with Dulse & Sea Lettuce, a creamy, crumbly semi-hard cheese. One for you if you crave a savoury umami hit.

Sharpham was also one of the first UK makers to create their own brie. It’s still their bestseller and according to cheese aficionados, ranks as one of the best. They’ve been hand-crafting award-winning soft and semi-hard cheeses here from their own herd of Jersey cows, along with goats and ewe’s milk from neighbouring West Country farms for over 35 years, and since 2018 it’s been owned by Greg and Nicky Parsons.

When I asked Greg to explain how they make the cheese, he started with, “Well, the cows eat the grass” (don’t you just love that?) then the cows produce the milk which gets heated (but not pasteurised), vegetarian rennet and cultures are added, and then as the milk gradually hardens, the cheese is cut and separated into curds and whey. The labour of love continues for up to five weeks, as then it gets lined out in the ripening room to drain and harden, while the cheese-makers repeatedly tend and turn it to create just the right consistency and texture.

Greg also shared the fun fact that cheese, like chocolate boosts serotonin, making you feel happy and less stressed. So far, from giving you nightmares, cheese is calming and sleep-inducing. So there you go – the perfect gift for anyone who loves hand-crafted, artisan cheeses made in time-honoured tradition and…insomniacs. Tuck in!

This month in Devon

Sharpham Estate, Totnes TQ9 7UT
01803 732 600

Opening hours
Monday: 10am-5pm (4pm in December)
Tuesday: 10am-5pm (4pm in December)
Wednesday: 10am-5pm (4pm in December)
Thursday: 10am-5pm (4pm in December)
Friday: 10am-5pm (4pm in December)
Saturday: 10am-5pm (4pm in December)
Sunday: 10am-5pm (Closed in December)

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