Full cream of the crop
With 10 years of cheese making under their belts, dairy farmers Jason and Annie pour their passions into milk.
It was inevitable that Jason and Annie Chesworth would end up working in the dairy industry. After all, dairy farming is a seven generation tradition in the Hunter Valley based Chesworth family. However, when the couple met at university in Wagga more than a decade ago, establishing a gourmet cheese and milk business was far from their minds. Fast forward to 2019 and Hunter Belle Dairy has become a household name locally and beyond, with its latest venture into full cream milk proving to be a winner. Hunter Belle milk has been in production for a little over 12 months, expanding into Woolworths Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Port Stephens stores last July. It now produces more than 10,000 litres of milk per week and supplies 27 Woolworths stores along with a number of smaller supermarkets. Dairy farmer at heart “The milk has really taken off,” says Annie Chesworth. “It really boomed when we launched into the supermarkets. Jason’s passion is milk and cows. He’s a dairy farmer at heart and has always wanted to produce milk. We’ve always felt there was a big calling for it and believe every region deserves to enjoy its local milk.” “It’s wonderful for us to be able to offer the Hunter Valley and our cheese customers a quality milk they can love and support; the milk we’ve been making cheese with for 10 years. Also, people who haven’t tried the cheese see the milk and say ‘maybe I’ll give the cheese a try.’ And visa versa.” Annie says the biggest complaint they’ve had about their milk is from people not being able to buy it in the shops. This is something the couple hopes to remedy soon by expanding their supply to 60 stores. “It would require another upgrade to get much bigger than that,” says Annie. “We are only producing milk three days a week so we have room to expand.” Annie said the decision to produce their own milk came after they purchased a former chicken factory in Scone in 2014 and set up Hunter Belle Dairy Co, which now produces all but two of their awardwinning cheeses. A government grant helped them refurbish the factory and they now employ 17 staff at the factory and a further 12 at the Hunter Belle café and cheese factory in Muswellbrook.
For further details about Hunter Belle milk and cheese and their stockists go to their website: https://www.hunterbelledairy.com
Read more in edition 93 of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine
Story: Frances O’Shea. Photography: Courtesy of Hunter Belle