Say Cheese

18th December 2019

Making great cheese is a form of alchemy, says Goodwood’s very own dairy wizard Bruce Rowan, who has won a clutch of awards for his delicious organic creations.

Words by Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

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Goodwood's cheeses, made at Home Farm from the wonderfully creamy milk produced by the organic dairy herd, are rightly famous. Not many people realise, however, that the man in charge of the operation, Bruce Rowan, comes from the other side of the Atlantic – appropriately enough for a cheesemaker, from Philadelphia. Rowan, whose mother is British and who had stints living in Somerset as a child, moved to the UK when his wife got a job here. “We figured we’d stay for a year or two and ended up staying 15,” he laughs. His first foray into cheese was behind the counter at Neal’s Yard Dairy in Covent Garden: “I got interested in the maturation process, and cheesemakers seemed like an interesting bunch,” he says. “I began covering for people when they went on holiday, and then at last I went on a proper course.” Rowan then moved to a farm in Devon, where he honed his craft, before applying for the cheesemaker’s role at Goodwood. He drove over from Devon for the interview, presented a selection of his cheeses for inspection, and fielded questions before heading home. Within two hours, he’d had a call offering him the job. 

Goodwood’s cheeses have won multiple awards: Levin Down is a rich and creamy soft white, Molecomb Blue is a full-bodied, veiny blue, and Charlton – voted Best Organic Cheese at the British Cheese Awards – is a tangy farmhouse cheese that lingers on the palate, similar in style to a cheddar. All are made on-site at Goodwood’s own organic Home Farm, a stone’s throw from where the cows munch away in the fields.


Today, he’s responsible for producing all of the estate’s cheese, and has plans to develop the range further. “I’d love to do a beer-washed cheese using Goodwood ale, which would be very pungent, a bit like an Époisses,” he explains, “and I’m interested in territorial cheeses like Double Gloucester and Red Leicester, too – I’d like to try a Goodwood version. There aren’t many traditional Sussex cheeses.” 

The joy of cheesemaking is in “the alchemy of it all”, he says. “There are only four ingredients, but so much of what happens depends on the soil, the weather, a bit of luck – it’s simple to do, but it’s complex at the same time.” There’s a lot of trial and error involved, and he’ll often have to wait up to six weeks to know if his latest experiment has worked. “To be a cheesemaker, you really need to enjoy puzzles,” he explains, “and one of the hardest parts is that a lot of the ingredients you’re dealing with – yeast, mould, bacteria – are invisible.” 

Nevertheless, there’s nothing quite like the beginning of his working day, when fresh, just-pasteurised milk comes in from the farm. “I find it all very peaceful,” he explains, “and the milk is wonderful, so that makes my job very easy.” Would he trade places with others on the estate? “Never,” he responds, firmly. “Being a cheesemaker is just the best job I’ve ever had.” 

Goodwood cheese is available to buy from Home Farm by calling 01243 755153. Visit for more details.


This article was taken from the Winter 2019/2020 edition of the Goodwood Magazine.


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