When it comes to goat cheese, Annie and Geoff Nieuwenhuis aren't kidding around.
The Hawke's Bay pair were this week named MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker at this year's New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.
The Te Hauke based couple have only been making goat cheeses under the Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese label for about three years.
They run a herd of about 56 milking goats - a mix of Saanen, Toggenburg and Anglo-Nubian breeds - on the 15-hectare property just off of State Highway 2.
It continues their love of animal husbandry - Annie having worked as a veterinarian and Geoff having farmed in Central Hawke's Bay for 30 years.
"We used to rear calves but they were always sold," she explained.
"I said, why don't we get some goats and make cheese. And that was it."
They didn't know anything about goats specifically or making cheese.
So they spent two years travelling through North America and Europe, visiting other artisan producers and learning all they could.
It proved you can be a small operator and sustain it, Annie said.
Their recipes are based on traditional European techniques with a Kiwi twist, including names reflecting the unique place where their cheese is from - Te Aute, Poukawa Fog and Oma.
The couple submitted three of their eight cheeses as part of the competition but did not expect to take out the category at the awards ceremony in Hamilton on Wednesday night.
Judges compared more than 300 cheeses from producers around the country.
"We thought it would only be for big players," Annie said.
The operation produces about 60 litres of milk each day, enough for about 6kg of cheese.
"It's not very much - we are really small."
But that's how they like it.
The Nieuwenhuis' are a regular at the local Hawke's Bay Farmers' market and also stock their cheeses at a few local food stores - several restaurants also feature dishes showcasing their cheeses.
One thing that sets them apart is they start making cheese just minutes after milking, going straight from the custom built milking shed into the cheesery attached to their old villa.
Geoff said there had been a shift since last year, with more people looking to buy local and wanting to know where their food came from.
"This year it's been disappearing all season. We didn't have any reserves left."
Their cheeses are so popular that they ran out around Easter time.
The goats are currently on "maternity leave" with milking set to begin again in early spring.
It really is a family business, Annie said, easily pointing to and naming individual goats as they grazed in a field.
Six of the goats hold special positions on farm, as noted on the website - from pasture analyst Oliva to chief operating goat Jacinda.
Annie's focus for the next few months is increasing production per goat and renovating the homestead with hopes to turn it into a farm stay where people can try their hand at milking and learn more about the cheese making process.
She said their mission was to create goats that they love, enjoy making cheeses and enjoy selling them to people who really appreciate it.
"We're happy where we're at. We'll be doing this until we are 80."
Neil Willman, chairman of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association which organises the awards, said it was encouraging to see the quality and variety of cheese which was recognised this year.
"It's proof of the strength of the New Zealand cheese industry and the quality and innovation of cheesemakers.
"I'm heartened by the reports that cheese lovers are seeking out locally made cheese, supporting the industry as never before and leading to increasing sales for New Zealand cheese."