Traditional cheese manufacturing in the Alps
A little world of its own...
Nestling in the Garnera valley, the Garnera Alp is a little bit hidden away. It forms part of the three-step agriculture that has been practised here in Vorarlberg for centuries. During the summer months the farmers’ cows live on the Alp, grazing the entire Garnera Valley, with its steep slopes, plentiful wild herbs and juicy green meadows.
Veronika and Christian Kartnig guard a very special treasure: They produce the cheese 'Sura Kees', an icon of the Montafon. We were allowed to watch over the cheesemakers’ shoulders during production. The Kartnigs are renowned for their traditional Sura Kees, a low-fat cheese made from cow’s milk, which has been known in the Montafon region since the 12th century.
‘My parents have a farm too, and as a child I spent time up here on the Alp, helping my cousin’, Veronika tells us. Having always been interested in the alpine dairy, she was determined to continue running it.
The Sura Kees looks a little like sheep’s cheese, yet with a much milder and creamier taste. And the best way to enjoy it is, of course, right where it is produced, here on the Garnera Alp. Sitting on one of those typical wooden benches, inhaling all the aromas of the alpine meadows, listening to the tinkling of the cowbells and just tucking in. It’s so peaceful here, as if someone had just turned down the sound of the world.
The Kartnigs will spend all summer on the Alp. They will take the cows off the Garnera Alp only in mid-September to move back into their house in the valley. There they will pick up their regular jobs again, Veronika as a graphic designer, Christian as a programmer.
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Alp Garnera, Montafon,Vorarlberg