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A semi-hard cheese, probably first made by French monks, who built an abbey at Jervaulx near Ripon near the end of the 12th century. Their cheeses would have been made with sheeps milk, and it is thought that most cheeses would have been naturally blue.
Domestic cows were introduced to the area during the 14th century, and as they were easier to manage and produced more milk, sheeps' milk versions slowly disappeared.
Pasteurised cheeses are still made at The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes in the Dale, and PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) has been applied for to protect their status.
Although this dairy make cheeses of a good benchmark standard, and better than many cheeses sold a Wensleydale, there are other artisan producers, outside the area, who were consider make cheeses with more character and depth of flavour.
Unless you are careful, you might buy a cheese labeled as Wensleydale that although pleasant, is more like a 'factory' Cheshire cheese that has been incorrectly labeled.