A farming family since the 16th century, the Clapps know a secret or two about how to turn the lush pastures of the Somerset Levels into award-winning West Country Farmhouse Cheddar.
The Clapp family has been farming in Somerset since 1538, but our cheesemaking is a slightly more recent enterprise that I run with my brother Bob and nephew Rob.
Returning from Australia in the 1920s, our grandfather started making cider alongside his parents' farm on the edge of the Somerset Levels. A small cider orchard remains here to this day. In 1958 our father, Robert Lewis Clapp, added a cheesemaking enterprise to the business, which grew to become the family's main source of income.
We now own three neighbouring Somerset dairy farms and produce mature handmade block farmhouse Cheddar using milk from our own herd of Holstein-Friesians and milk from other local farms. Producing our cheese by hand in enough volume to meet demand while maintaining a high quality and superb flavour is quite an undertaking, so we now employ sixteen people full time on the farm and in the dairy.
Our original cheesemaker, Bill Melluish retired a couple of years ago but we were fortunate that he took the time and care to pass on his skills to his son William and to me and my family.
Our cheese is matured in the farm store for up to 16 months and sold under the West Country label and at local markets and independent cheese shops.
We also make West Country Northwood Farm Butter with milk from my nephew's cows. They enjoy a diet of grass from the same pastures, producing the perfect milk for butter making and a product of the same unrivalled quality and taste.
PS Please don't confuse Brue Valley with 'Brue Chapel'. Brue Valley is the only authentic West Country Farmhouse Cheddar with this name. We wouldn't want you to be disappointed.