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Hooked on Cheese: L’Etivaz: Cheese of the Alps

Hooked on Cheese: L’Etivaz: Cheese of the Alps


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This Swiss mountain cheese was inspired by Gruyère

L'Etivaz is only made from late spring to early fall, when the cows are able to graze in the Swiss mountain pastures.

There is something very special about the taste profile of Swiss mountain cheeses. I love the signature hints of toasted grains, roasted almonds, brown butter and subtle savory herbs that are present in the best cheeses of the region. Of the scores of mountain cheeses I’ve tasted in my time, L’Etivaz is one of my absolute favorites. It is one of the only Swiss cheeses to be labeled with the coveted AOC designation (appellation d’origine controlee, which translates as "controlled designation of origin"), and can be described as a specialized form of the more well-known Gruyère.

Made from raw cow’s milk at L’Etivaz Cooperative, located in a tiny village hamlet in the southwest mountain region of Switzerland, this cheese is only made from late spring to early fall, when the cows are able to graze in the surrounding mountain pastures. The cooperative has incredibly specific methods where cheese production is concerned; it is produced only in traditional copper cauldrons over a particular type of open wood-burning fire, then formed into large, forty-pound wheels and aged for five to thirteen months.

The history of L’Etivaz Cooperative is what is most noteworthy about this cheese. In the 1930s, a group of seventy-six Gruyère producing families felt that Swiss government regulations were allowing cheesemakers to compromise the qualities that made good Gruyère so special. They withdrew from the government's Gruyère program, and "created" their own cheese – L'Etivaz – named for the village around which they all lived. They officially founded a cooperative in 1932, and the first of their cheese cellars were built in 1934.

L’Etivaz is yellow-ivory in color and slightly sticky. Look for well-aged wheels if possible, around twelve months old.

This is a fantastic offering on a cheese plate, or can be melted on soup, bread or potato dishes. It pairs well with Petit Syrah, young Burgundy reds or aged, unoaked white wines. In the winter months, pair it with warm bread for a delectable, comforting combination.

Additional reporting by Madeleine James.


The production process

The raw milk comes from cows which graze on the natural pastures of the Vaudois Alps and alpine foothills. It is these pastures, rich in wild flowers that create the aroma and provide the unique flavour of L&rsquoEtivaz AOP.

In a copper cauldron

The milk from the evening milking is stocked in churns until the following morning, when the cheesemaker skims off the cream with a ladle. The evening milk and morning milk are then poured into the copper cauldron.

The milk, enriched with lactic bacteria obtained from the production centre itself, is gently heated to 32°C over a wood fire. The cheesemaker then adds the rennet, which consists of natural enzymes extracted exclusively from the abomasum of young calves. After stirring the milk for a few minutes the cheesemaker stops the mixer and allows the milk to rest so that it can curdle.

On the wood fire

When the milk has curdled, the cheesemaker cuts the curdled mass into ever smaller grains, using a cheese harp. This delicate operation requires a lot of know-how on his part.

This mixture of curds and whey, sometimes as much as 1,000 litres at a time, is heated to around 57°C over the fire, under constant stirring. The cauldron is then swung away from the fire on the suspension arm.

Under the press

The cheesemaker stretches a cheesecloth on a rod, slides it under the curds and lifts out the cheese mass which he then puts into a mould and presses. The wheel of cheese thus formed must subsequently be turned over several times. The producer then puts the L&rsquoEtivaz AOP casein mark on it as well as his initials in order to be able to guarantee traceability. The wheels remain in the press until the following morning.

Weighing between 15 and 38 kg, the wheels are rubbed with cheese dairy salt and kept at the alpine production centre for a maximum of 7 days.


Milk and Modernity

The pint of milk—fresh, sweet, and cold—is the essential dairy product. Or, at least, it is in the present-day Anglo-Saxon world. But everything about that milk is distinctively modern: its sweetness, its temperature, its liquidity. Those qualities require technologies like pasteurization, refrigeration, and efficient transport, all of which have contributed to the widespread availability of milk in its unfermented form.

Practices like refrigeration and mixing the milk from several herds have become second nature within the modern dairy industry. They allow for valuable economies of scale, and they can prolong milk's freshness (i.e., prevent it from naturally souring) for up to several days before further processing. This is not a consideration for large factories alone: Small-scale cheesemakers frequently make cheese only a few times a week, a practice that would have been impossible before the advent of refrigeration.

But, according to AOP mandates, the milk used for L'Etivaz must not travel more than a few yards from the moment the cows are milked to when it is made into cheese. The reason for this is that milk is surprisingly delicate, an emulsion of fat globules by diaphanous membranes. When warm, these globules are malleable and resilient, but when chilled, the fats inside them become rigid, like cold butter. Pumping and agitating cold milk—unavoidable when transport and refrigeration come into play—cause the globule membranes to shear, releasing the butterfat directly into the aqueous milk. This is the first step in churning butter, but for a cheesemaker interested in keeping that fat within the cheese, it's a disaster. When warmed back up for cheesemaking, the surface of milk that is old or over-pumped is laced with tiny butter-oil droplets, like a vinaigrette that's in the process of breaking. As the cheesemaking commences, these droplets or clumps of butterfat are carried off with the whey. (Folding the damaged fat back into the curd is even worse, leading to pockets of fat within the cheese.) By keeping cooling, pumping, and sloshing to an absolute minimum, processing the milk for L'Etivaz on-site prevents this damage in the first place.


Hooked on Cheese: L’Etivaz: Cheese of the Alps - Recipes

L'Etivaz, forerunner of the most popular Swiss cheese, Gruyere, is produced in numerous chalets on the Swiss Alps, in the canton Vadud. It is made only in summer, when cows graze freely, eating a healthy a diet in the high alpine meadows. This diet explains the deliciousness of this raw milk cheese.

The milk is first heated in copper pots which gives L'Etivaz a slightly smoky flavor. Then, the cheese is aged for a period from 6 months to several years during which it gains a more complex flavor with notes of roasted meats, herbs, butter, and toffee.

Organoleptic properties

Aspect and texture: natural, brushed rind with a firm, compact interior

Taste: sharp and nutty with hints of sweetness

Serving suggestions

Cotes du Rhone, fruity reds, Champagne

Ingredients

Raw grass-fed cow's milk, salt, traditional rennet, cultures

Discover more semi-firm cheeses on Sensibus!

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Etivaz: the story of a truly special cheese

Nestled high in the Swiss mountains there remains a commune that has strived to protect its heritage. And so a particular way of making cheese has changed little during the last two hundred years.

Every year, once the snow has melted and the skiers have gone home, 69 special cheese producers don their boots to make the journey up to their Alpage chalets in order to make a truly special cheese: Etivaz.

The town of Etivaz sits a bit further up the mountain from the ski resorts of Gstaad and Château d’Oex. It’s only a small commune, but the residents of Etivaz have managed to maintain their Alpage way of life and ultra-traditional way of making cheese, whilst others throughout the Alps have found it hard to retain their customs and compete against larger commercial practices and advances in cheese-making. But Etivaz is special because back in 1932, thirty local farm cheese-makers decided to work together collectively to ensure their unique style of cheese-making remained vibrant.

To gain strength through numbers, they set up a co-operative in the local village of Etivaz. Here they built a cave to which they could all bring their fresh cheese down from their farms, to be aged and then sold. The cave in Etivaz is run by a small team employed by the collective of farmers. Thus the stress of maturing and selling each individual farm’s product from the farm was reduced, and they began instead to market their farmhouse Alpage cheese as a brand: L’Etivaz cheese.

Over the last 85 years this co-operative has kept protected the true ideals of alpine cheese-making. Etivaz carries the torch of tradition up there in the Alps: some call it the grandfather of Gruyère. The method of production is similar to Gruyère (with the curds heated to produce the supple textures and sweet, caramelised flavours), and in tasting and texture you can see how both cheeses are closely related. But the characteristics of Etivaz stand out as different thanks to the ancient methods of production, and it is only made in the Summer months (from 10th May to 10th October) when the cows feed exclusively on the rich lush Alpine pastures all higher than 1000m (3300 feet). The cheese is made in a massive copper cauldron that hangs over an open log fire. As the fire burns brightly under the cheese cauldrons the smoke and ashes settle on the inside of the chalets, blackening the outside of the cheese cauldrons, and giving the curds a saline and smoky quality. This is real cheese, of its place, and capturing each farm’s unique terroir.

With the youngest maker just 21 and the oldest 77, Etivaz cheese continues to be kept alive by this co-operative of 69 different producers, working together to preserve their traditions and history and fighting against bureaucracy, hygiene demands, and cheaper, mass-produced alternatives. Etivaz is a brilliant example of how small producers (most have between 20 and 60 cows) can out-compete bigger businesses, despite their economies of scale.

Frederic and Irene Chabloz make up one of these prized Etivaz producers. Based at 1550m high, their chalet is a 45-minute drive and a walk up the mountain from the Etivaz town and its cave. Farming just 24 traditionally-bred Swiss cows, they make only two small wheels of Etivaz each day, and only from mid June to late September (their location is too wild to allow them to continue producing into October as some of other chalets do).

Their tiny chalet, hanging tight to the hillside, is the centre of their lives for those four months. Their milking parlour and cellar are on the bottom floor, and there’s a small kitchen, bedroom and cheese-make room above. Frederic’s day begins at sunrise as he brings the cows in from the mountain pasture to be milked. Last night’s milking already rests in open copper pans in the chalet, where the cream is skimmed off by hand. This is poured into the large copper cauldron and the morning milk, natural whey cultures and rennet are added.

Once set, the curd is cut and then it is heated. Crucial to the Etivaz cheese-making is the log fire burning in the middle of the chalet (most cheese producers nowadays heat using a heated sealed vat). Frederic spends the autumn on the mountain cutting logs for his cheese fire the next year.

As the fire gains ferocity, the copper cauldron of milk is swung above it. The fire crackles, and flames caress the cauldron as the smoke fills the already blackened room. Airborn ashes that drop into the vat will give the finished cheeses a faint whiff of smokiness. It’s a scene that would be familiar to cheese-makers from 200 years ago – it’s only the sound of the radio that reminds the observer that this is the 21st Century.

Within a few hours the specks of curd have hardened and it is gathered up in a muslin bag before being pressed overnight in the couple’s kitchen. It will then rest a few days in their cellar before being taken down to the Etivaz cave (the cheese must be taken down before it is seven days old). It will spend at least the next year under the careful attention of the affineurs in the Etivaz cave.

Once the cheese is properly aged, the master of the cave will taste and grade every one of the Etivaz cheese-makers wheels each day. The makers are then given 10% of their production for their own use, and paid a split of the profits from the co-operative depending on the weight of cheese they contributed, and the score of all their cheeses at grading. You’ll be pleased to know Frederic and Irene got an almost perfect set of scores last year.

There are cheeses that are made in a similar way to Etivaz, but none as stripped back to basics as Etivaz. To taste Etivaz is to experience traditional cheese-making at its most pure. We should seek Etivaz out – it deserves our support.

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Story about The Cooperative

Until the 1930s the production of cheese in the Pays-d&rsquoEnhaut was in constant decline. Faced with this situation which was due essentially to problems of marketing arising from a drop in quality caused by the poor storage conditions in chalet cellars the &lsquoamodiateurs&rsquo (land officers) of the region decided to form a cooperative in 1932.

The construction of the cellars in L&rsquoEtivaz marked the first step. With a storage capacity for 2,700 wheels of cheese there was enough room for all 30 members of this initial cooperative to store their cheeses.

In 1946 the cooperative extended its range of activity to include all of the Vaudois Alps. It built a loft with a storage capacity sufficient to hold 3,000 cheese wheels in order to be able to produce L&rsquoEtivaz à rebibes.

The continued increase in production caused the cooperative to enlarge its cellars in 1974.

Successive expansions of ripening cellars

Soon afterwards, however, the cellars were again too small to hold all the cheese produced, and some wheels had to be stored down on the plain. The announcement of the closure of the cellars of the Federation of Dairies in Vevey forced the cooperative to reorganise. Ultimately, the decision was taken to once again increase the storage capacity of the cellars in L&rsquoEtivaz and at the same time to restructure the whole plant in order to improve the ripening facilities. This extension carried out in 1986 made it possible to repatriate the whole ripening process to the cradle of the cheese production. The storage capacity was increased to hold 14,000 wheels of cheese .

Thus in time the producers of L&rsquoEtivaz OAP alpine cheese created work facilities which met both their own specific needs and the increasingly demanding ones of the market.

In 2005 a further extension of the cellars catered for the storage of 9,180 extra wheels of cheese, necessary in order to better satisfy a clientele whose preference was for more full-bodied cheeses requiring a longer ripening time. Only a few years after the construction of the cellar extension in 2005 lack of space again became evident.

In 2012 the construction of cellars providing storage space for a further 7,000 wheels made it necessary to pull down the cellars built in 1934.

A new loft for L&rsquoEtivaz à rebibes was also built, increasing the storage capacity from 3,000 to 5,000 wheels .

1934 the first L&rsquoEtivaz cellars
1946 construction of the loft for L&rsquoEtivaz à rebibes
1974 1 st extension of the cellars
1986 2 nd extension of the cellars
1994 construction of the shop "la Maison de L&rsquoEtivaz"
2005 3 rd extension of the cellars

First "AOP" in Switzerland

In 1992 very strict internal regulations governing specifically the conditions of milk production, cheese-making and ripening were adopted to guarantee the quality of production of &ldquoL&rsquoEtivaz&rdquo cheese.

These regulations formed the basis of the application made in 1997 to obtain the designation AOC (controlled designation of origin) which has since become AOP (protected designation of origin).

On 24 September, 1999 L&rsquoEtivaz alpine cheese became the first Swiss AOP to appear in the Federal register of designations of origin and, in 2000 it appeared in the IGP (protected geographical designation) register.


The Cheese Train and Raclette Tasting Reign in the Alps

Winter and cheese in the Swiss Alps go together like surf and turf by the sea. Gourmands even call this part of the French-speaking range in southwestern Switzerland the "Holy Grail of cheese." After the snow melts each spring, cows make their annual ascent to spend summers in high-altitude pastures and graze on the season's bounty of grass, flowers and herbs — Mother Nature's recipe for making splendid curds and whey.

When I heard about Switzerland's new Cheese Train in canton Vaud and raclette cheese-tasting in neighboring canton Valais, I was there.

The Cheese Train, which debuted on the Golden Pass Line last winter, runs each year from December to April, rekindling romantic day trips first offered to tourists at the turn of the 20th century. Back then they, too, were curious about the lovely cheese made in the mountains, an industry that dates back to the 12th century.

I was there during summer, but I got a taste in more ways than one of a simpler rhythm of life that contrasted nicely with my visit to the swank jazz town of Montreaux at the foot of the Alps on Lake Geneva's shores.

Time stood still when I boarded the restored Belle Epoque carriage at Montreux station, setting the mood for the hourlong journey to the village of Chateau-d'Oex at 3,143 feet above sea level. Upholstered seats, rich wood paneling and shiny brass fixtures (seat numbers are etched on brass plates) reminded me of a day trip I once took on the Orient Express.

Chateau-d'Oex (population 3,000), Rossiniere (population 500) and Rougemont (population 900) are the three main villages of the Pays d'Enhaut region. Nestled in a quiet valley, here elegant chalets aged by time are surrounded by forests, meadows and high, rocky cliffs. L'Etivaz cheese (named after the hamlet of its origin) is made by 70 families the way it was centuries ago - always in a copper cauldron and always over a wood fire.

In the rustic ambience of Le Chalet Restaurant guests on the storybook-like tour watch a demonstration of L'Etivaz in the making as cheese-makers stir organic milk by hand, then transform it into marvelous wheels of the celebrated cheese that is protected by an appellation d'origine protegee, a government designation that guarantees quality and authenticity of origin — the first Swiss product to receive this status. Aging takes between four and a half months to two years, and by the time the first snow falls the hard Gruyere-like cheese, aromatic with a nutty flavor and a sharp finish, is ready to feast upon.

After the demonstration guests partake in cheese fondue, the communal tradition of breaking bread in the Alps. With a pot of warm melted cheese before me I dipped chunks of bread into the divine, gooey blend and prayed for the meal not to end.

The tour continues with the last leg — an enchanting visit to the Museum of the Old Pays-d'Enhaut, one of Switzerland's most important folk-art museums.

Remarkable collections preserve the history of this mountain region isolated during the Middle Ages that had become a world of its own. Inhabitants lived in chalets they built from wood cut in the dense forests. They raised cows and created a thriving business making cheese and selling it at the Vevey markets by the lake, a trek made by foot, explained Frederic Delachaux, who directs tourism efforts in the region. Today, he added, cheese is the most important product for the region.

Sophisticated arts and crafts emerged, too — exquisite wood-carving, tools, furniture-building, posters advertising the Golden Pass Line, lace-making, even love letters written ornately in calligraphy. An exhibit of delicate paper-cut art, a rare style of decoupage unique to this region, is extraordinary. Through mesmerizing detail achieved using scissors and tiny razors pictorial storytelling of old village life comes alive.

"The museum," said Delachaux, "is a treasure."

Across the cantonal border in the Valais my appreciation for Switzerland's esteemed mountain cheeses reached another height.

I had never thought of cheese as a main dish, and I had never imagined that a cheese-tasting could involve just one cheese. Raclette — the name of the cheese and the meal — is made from the raw milk of black fighting cows.

"Raclette is made only in the Valais and is the most traditional dish," said my guide, Valerie Levrand, a native of the area whose family raised black cows.

The black bovines (their fighting instinct for dominance is limited to head-butting) graze all summer on hundreds of flowers that grow in the area's 16 Alpine pastures. While the method of cheese-making is the same in every village, the difference lies in the distinct taste of the cows' milk because different flowers grown in the various fields give the cheese from each village its own character and flavor.

Raclette comes from the French word racler (to scrape) and is traditionally a group meal that can last for hours (eating alone is not recommended). A half-wheel of the semi-hard, silky cheese is heated over an open fire until it softens. Then it is scraped onto a plate and eaten in its velvety state with boiled baby potatoes, pearl onions, gherkins, gorgeous rye bread and meats air-dried with herbs (another Valaisanne specialty).

In the middle of the country's largest wine region, the 16th-century Chateau de Villa in Sierre is a nobleman's castle turned wine-and-cheese destination that houses a wine museum — L'Oeonotheque, with 600 wines for tasting and purchase — and a restaurant offering tastings of Raclette du Valais AOP.

My companions and I had just finished an invigorating walk along the wine trail through the vineyards and nearby forest, which ended at Chateau de Villa. Our appetites were ready for the Degustation de Raclettes, a culinary odyssey of sampling five different raclettes, one long scrape at a time. In the outdoor garden terrace we sipped Fendant, a local white wine that goes best with raclette, all the while pondering each mouthful for subtle floral nuances.

The meal was fabulous and filling and finished with the traditional apricot sorbet with apricot Schnapps. Everything we ate was locally made. Apricots grow abundantly in the area, and Schnapps is produced nearby.

The day before at higher elevation I had paid a visit (actually a pilgrimage) to Bagne, the "Temple of Raclette," where master cheese-maker Eddy Baillifard, whose family has been making raclette for generations, was immersed in his craft.

Inside Centrale Laitiere, the central dairy, Baillifard, the happiest man I have ever met, was in his element separating the curds from the whey. And in the distance clanging bells was a dead giveaway that the black cows, the source of raclette, were grazing in the fields above.


Alpine Style Cheeses

We like to call these wheels the gentle giants—hailing from the Alps, where this style of cheese derives its name, these large wheels are known for being firm, toothsome, and distinctly nutty. Animals in the Swiss and French mountains often practice what’s called transhumance, which means that they graze in different areas depending on the season, so Alpine wheels will emerge with variations in flavor based on when the milk was produced—for example, wheels made with milk from the summer tend to be bright and grassy, while milk produced in autumn gives the cheese a nuttier, earthier profile, as seen in iconic classics like Gruyère d’Alpage, Emmentaler, and Appenzeller.

Why do some Swiss cheeses have holes? During the cheesemaking process, the bacteria interacts with the lactic acid and forms air pockets, which give us the small holes or eyes in many popular cheeses. Similarly, the renowned nuttiness of these mountain-made favorites comes from the milk curds being cooked at higher temperatures. Another Alpine identifier? Most of these highly snackable cheeses are made for melting, so grab a few slices for your cheese board or melt some down for a mild, mellow fondue treat.


L'Etivaz

The district possesses extensive alp pastures for summering cattle and dairy farming is still of vast importance. Some 2800 animals spend the summer grazing on the alp meadows of L'Etivaz. The wealth of Apine flora gives the milk a delicate flavour which is transferred to the cheese. From May to October, over one hundred alp dairies in the Vaud Alps process the raw milk into Etivaz mountain cheese – over an open fire, by hand and to traditional recipes. This was the first Swiss cheese to gain the AOP Protected Designation of Origin label.

L'Etivaz AOC is a distinctive raw-milk hard cheese, spicy, fruity and with a slightly nutty note. The cheese wheels weigh between 15 and 35 kilos and annual production is around 400 tonnes. Etivaz AOC is matured for between 5 and 13 months, hobelkäse (for planing to wafers) at least 30 months and is ideal to store. The Cooperative of L'Etivaz Alpine Cheese Producers, founded over 60 years ago, takes over the maturation of the cheese in the cooperative’s cellar at the entrance to L'Etivaz and also handles the marketing. The cheese can be sampled and also bought here in the L'Etivaz management, marketing, culture and tourist centre. The alp landscape is perfect for long summer hikes. En route from L'Etivaz towards Col des Mosses you reach La Lécherette and the valley of the Hongrin. The Lac de l'Hongrin (1255 m) was formed by damming the river. In winter La Lécherette offers a small ski area (also cross-country skiing) with a link to the larger ski region of Les Mosses.

Highlights

  • L'Etivaz AOC – a hard cheese made from raw milk and bearing the Protected Designation of Origin label can be sampled and bought in the Etivaz Cheese Centre.
  • Tiny old L'Etivaz Church – a church stood in L'Etivaz as early as the 15th century and was rebuilt in 1589.
  • Hiking region – the lesser- known valleys around L’Etivaz offer great hiking, to the Lac de l'Hongrin or over the Col de Jable to Gstaad (also with mountain bike or snowshoes).

The district possesses extensive alp pastures for summering cattle and dairy farming is still of vast importance. Some 2800 animals spend the summer grazing on the alp meadows of L'Etivaz. The wealth of Apine flora gives the milk a delicate flavour which is transferred to the cheese. From May to October, over one hundred alp dairies in the Vaud Alps process the raw milk into Etivaz mountain cheese – over an open fire, by hand and to traditional recipes. This was the first Swiss cheese to gain the AOP Protected Designation of Origin label.

L'Etivaz AOC is a distinctive raw-milk hard cheese, spicy, fruity and with a slightly nutty note. The cheese wheels weigh between 15 and 35 kilos and annual production is around 400 tonnes. Etivaz AOC is matured for between 5 and 13 months, hobelkäse (for planing to wafers) at least 30 months and is ideal to store. The Cooperative of L'Etivaz Alpine Cheese Producers, founded over 60 years ago, takes over the maturation of the cheese in the cooperative’s cellar at the entrance to L'Etivaz and also handles the marketing. The cheese can be sampled and also bought here in the L'Etivaz management, marketing, culture and tourist centre. The alp landscape is perfect for long summer hikes. En route from L'Etivaz towards Col des Mosses you reach La Lécherette and the valley of the Hongrin. The Lac de l'Hongrin (1255 m) was formed by damming the river. In winter La Lécherette offers a small ski area (also cross-country skiing) with a link to the larger ski region of Les Mosses.


L'Etivaz

The district possesses extensive alp pastures for summering cattle and dairy farming is still of vast importance. Some 2800 animals spend the summer grazing on the alp meadows of L'Etivaz. The wealth of Apine flora gives the milk a delicate flavour which is transferred to the cheese. From May to October, over one hundred alp dairies in the Vaud Alps process the raw milk into Etivaz mountain cheese – over an open fire, by hand and to traditional recipes. This was the first Swiss cheese to gain the AOP Protected Designation of Origin label.

L'Etivaz AOC is a distinctive raw-milk hard cheese, spicy, fruity and with a slightly nutty note. The cheese wheels weigh between 15 and 35 kilos and annual production is around 400 tonnes. Etivaz AOC is matured for between 5 and 13 months, hobelkäse (for planing to wafers) at least 30 months and is ideal to store. The Cooperative of L'Etivaz Alpine Cheese Producers, founded over 60 years ago, takes over the maturation of the cheese in the cooperative’s cellar at the entrance to L'Etivaz and also handles the marketing. The cheese can be sampled and also bought here in the L'Etivaz management, marketing, culture and tourist centre. The alp landscape is perfect for long summer hikes. En route from L'Etivaz towards Col des Mosses you reach La Lécherette and the valley of the Hongrin. The Lac de l'Hongrin (1255 m) was formed by damming the river. In winter La Lécherette offers a small ski area (also cross-country skiing) with a link to the larger ski region of Les Mosses.

Highlights

  • L'Etivaz AOC – a hard cheese made from raw milk and bearing the Protected Designation of Origin label can be sampled and bought in the Etivaz Cheese Centre.
  • Tiny old L'Etivaz Church – a church stood in L'Etivaz as early as the 15th century and was rebuilt in 1589.
  • Hiking region – the lesser- known valleys around L’Etivaz offer great hiking, to the Lac de l'Hongrin or over the Col de Jable to Gstaad (also with mountain bike or snowshoes).

The district possesses extensive alp pastures for summering cattle and dairy farming is still of vast importance. Some 2800 animals spend the summer grazing on the alp meadows of L'Etivaz. The wealth of Apine flora gives the milk a delicate flavour which is transferred to the cheese. From May to October, over one hundred alp dairies in the Vaud Alps process the raw milk into Etivaz mountain cheese – over an open fire, by hand and to traditional recipes. This was the first Swiss cheese to gain the AOP Protected Designation of Origin label.

L'Etivaz AOC is a distinctive raw-milk hard cheese, spicy, fruity and with a slightly nutty note. The cheese wheels weigh between 15 and 35 kilos and annual production is around 400 tonnes. Etivaz AOC is matured for between 5 and 13 months, hobelkäse (for planing to wafers) at least 30 months and is ideal to store. The Cooperative of L'Etivaz Alpine Cheese Producers, founded over 60 years ago, takes over the maturation of the cheese in the cooperative’s cellar at the entrance to L'Etivaz and also handles the marketing. The cheese can be sampled and also bought here in the L'Etivaz management, marketing, culture and tourist centre. The alp landscape is perfect for long summer hikes. En route from L'Etivaz towards Col des Mosses you reach La Lécherette and the valley of the Hongrin. The Lac de l'Hongrin (1255 m) was formed by damming the river. In winter La Lécherette offers a small ski area (also cross-country skiing) with a link to the larger ski region of Les Mosses.


Watch the video: Etivaz cheese - watch its story.. (May 2022).