Where the South of Switzerland meets the West of Ireland...
Dozio Cheese is a family run cheese dairy, established in 2016, making a range of cows' milk cheeses. Helen Dozio (Grady) grew up in Carracastle, where the dairy is now based and Danilo Dozio comes from the South of Switzerland, a region with a long tradition in cheesemaking.
Danilo grew up near Lugano, south of the Alps, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Along with wine made from locally grown grapes, cheese is a huge part of the culture and cuisine. In an area the size of Co. Mayo there are about 100 cheese dairies. In Danilo's home, as was the norm, no meal was complete without a cheeseboard.
Living and working in Switzerland in the 1990s, Helen, whose parents had a small dairy farm when she was a child, began to share Danilo's passion for cheese. On mountain hikes, when passing a dairy, some handmade cheese was always bought for the next break and the cheesemaker was often subjected to a lengthy questioning on the craft of cheesemaking.
On several occasions Danilo gained experience by working alongside master cheesemakers, like Renzo Rezzonico, a now retired cheesemaker who spent over 40 years making Alpine style cheese in the Swiss mountains during the summer months and cheese such as Furmagella, on the lowlands during the winter. This experience proved invaluable. Danilo also spent time with other newer cheesemakers to compare ways of working.
The Cheese Dairy
When we settled in Carracastle, where Helen grew up, we began looking for a way of making a sustainable income in the countryside. Cheesemaking was always top of the list, but it took many years of planning before our dairy was ready.
Having fresh milk readily available only minutes away, with just a handful of cheesemakers in the west of Ireland and easy access to a wealth of cheesemaking knowledge, we felt encouraged to go ahead and take the plunge in becoming cheesemakers.
On a frosty morning at the end of November 2016 we began collecting milk, just over the road, from Derek & Mary Richardson’s dairy farm and we made our first batch of ELLA.
Danilo & Helen
At the 2019 Irish Cheese Awards, Barr Rua won Best New Cheese & Gold. This was a great achievement for us, just 3 years after starting out as cheesemakers. Apricot & Almond Zing also won in its category and Ella came 3rd.
Turning and wiping Barr Rua in the cellar. Barr Rua matures for a minimum of 3 months and care is vital as flavours develop. We also ripen Ella in the cellar.
Our son Neil with Danilo, helping out during the holidays. In summertime it's all hands on deck, when we make most of our Barr Rua, Alpine style cheese. By Christmas, it will have a lovely nutty taste, when it is about 6 months.
Our Milk Supplier
Mary & Derek Richardson
The Richardson family has been in dairy farming for generations. Derek grew up doing jobs on the farm and as an adult he stayed involved and settled with Mary at the homeplace.
Eventually Derek took over from his parents and with his family continues the dairying tradition.
The farm is about 200 acres and it is part of Origin Green. Farming is unintensive.
There are 70 dairy cows on the farm mostly Friesians. They are grass fed, with silage during the winter.