Traditional Wensleydale has always been produced in Yorkshire, located in the north of England, a hilly region often referred to as the Dales. In the early 1900s there were hundreds of farms in the valleys and the when the creamery at Hawes was set up in the 1930's, it was one of the first factories in England to collect milk from many farms and make cheese centrally.
As the recipe of the cheese changed to accommodate this large-scale production, the cheese became firmer, although in recent years Hawes Creamery has been working to try and recreate the more traditional type and texture of an original Wensleydale. Somewhat unusually these days, Hawes make their own starter cultures, a factor that has considerable impact on the flavor and development of the final cheese.
Hawes Wensleydale has a lower acidity than most Wensleydales, meaning there is more depth and subtlety of flavor, rather than a one-dimensional acidity.
Currently, most producers of Wensleydale use cow's milk, although occasionally sheep's milk is used.
Wensleydale is usually eaten young, when it is finely textured, flaky and moist, whereas mature Wensleydale is drier. Yorkshire's limestone soil gives the cheese a gentle flavor, beautifully balanced by an underlying and slightly tart freshness.
The cheese is traditionally eaten with fruitcake or apple pie and complemented with a medium dry white wine.