Wensleydale's last remaining cheesemaker is hoping a successful Protected Designation of Origin application will highlight the heritage of Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes and boost sales, according to MD David Hartley Our Hawes creamery produces hand-crafted, traditional cloth-bound Wensleydale and territorials along with blended cheeses. We have been independent since 1992, when managers bought it from Dairy Crest to save the company from closure and cheesemaking resumed. We are a medium-sized company with a turnover of £16m, and we supply all the major retailers and many independents with branded and own label product. We sell our cheeses through our visitors' centre and also export them. Only local milk from upland farmers goes into the creamery. We pay a top price and we are a very important part of the Yorkshire Dales' economy as well as a major employer with nearly 200 members of staff. We are hoping to bolster our brand and protect our heritage by securing Protected Designation of Origin status for Real Yorkshire Wensleydale. An application is being considered in Brussels and we feel we have a fairly strong case because cheesemaking in the region can be traced back by more than 1,000 years. Blended Wensleydale is also covered by the application. We invented the Wensleydale and cranberry combination and now have a marketing arrangement with Ocean Spray. Our goat and sheep milk cheeses are not included in the PDO application, however. Sheeps milk cheese, in particular, is becoming more popular and accounts for about 2.5% of total production. It is stocked by Waitrose and Morrisons. We want to be more creative with niche products and innovate more, provided there are enough sheep milk producers to supply the market. Our visitor centre attracts a substantial number of people every year who want to learn more about the cheesemaking process, sample our cheeses and eat in the restaurant. This helps to ensure they become loyal to our brand and contributes to the business in terms of profitability. Builders are still on site following a fire earlier this year in which we lost some blending facilities, but our contingency plans helped us and we got support from our competitors. The situation taught us a lot about our priorities. We are pairing up with recognised brands in some licensed products such as Colman's English Cheddar, a combination of cheese and English wholegrain mustard.