Trevor Dunford, Saul and Sheree Sullivan are the proud creators of great Australian Cheese. This is the family behind Udder Delights, who were ‘Udderly’ passionate about creating delicious cheeses for all Australians to enjoy. Starting from humble beginnings in the picturesque Adelaide Hills they grew a simple idea of wholesome handmade cheese into one of Australia’s leading artisan cheese producers.
My story – “I have often been described as the Accidental Entrepreneur and it all started when my parents dreamt of farming a small patch of land in the Adelaide Hills, with the desire to build a wholesome lifestyle and a rewarding retirement. It began with raspberry and fig farming (YUM), which led to a couple of goats to eat the cane clippings in 1995.
Mum and Dad (Estelle and Trevor Dunford) milked our goats ‘Nora and Nell’ and sold the small amount of milk on the side. The goat dairy continued to grow, but when they were told one day that we would have our goats milk price slashed, my parents decided to value add the milk ourselves and try our luck at making artisan goat cheese.
Being a builder my father was not daunted by physically building a cheese factory, and mum was always open to risk and hard work. I decided to put my hand up to take on the cheese making and business management – a slightly daunting project for me as I only had a degree in Jazz Piano to my name, which I completed the year earlier in 1998. Years of trial, error and big risks saw successes and failures come and go.
In 2004 I married my husband Saul Sullivan and together we took over the reins of what my parents had started, and as a family we relentlessly pushed the business forward.
We branched out to also create cow’s milk cheeses, and in time the scarifies and hard work began to reward our efforts. Our original cheese making room was only the size of a shipping container, but from there we worked hard to grow the business into one that supports almost 50 local staff members and their families. Having closed down our goat diary in subsequent years, we also buy our milk directly from several local cow and goat dairy farming families.
The desire to connect further with our customers meant selling everything Saul and I owned to fund the opening of our Udder Delights Cheese Cellar in 2006 – which has now been awarded the Hall of Fame for ‘Excellence in Food Tourism’ after winning gold in the State category three years in a row.
Saul has continued to hone his exceptional cheese making skill and was the first Australian cheese makers to legally produce and sell the nation’s first raw milk blue cheese – King Saul Raw Blue.
As the business has progressed throughout the years, we have seen equal amounts of triumph and tragedy – none more so than Mum (Estelle Dunford) dying in 2011 from brain cancer at the very young age of 58. Her legacy will always live on through Udder Delights – she had an indominable work ethic, a quiet ‘never give up’ attitude and always an open home and kitchen.
Trevor retired and exited the business in 2017, with Saul and I staying at the helm while bringing on new investment partners. The future is bright for Udder Delights, and I’m constantly humbled by how the business has grown and continues to develop. We love to make great cheese for all Australians to enjoy, and I hope that we can enrich your lives too – one cheese at a time.” – Sheree Sullivan