Arrowine is Adopting an Alp!
Selecting the finest cheeses from around the world isn’t always easy to do from our shop in Arlington. Oftentimes, we rely on expert cheese selectors and affineurs to find us rare gems that would have otherwise never reached our store. Caroline Hostettler, of Quality Cheese, has been our Swiss cheese selector for many years. Almost all of the grand and unique Swiss cheeses we carry at Arrowine have made the trip from tiny dairies to our little corner of Arlington because of her. Her palate is exceptional, her knowledge of Swiss cheese unmatched. If you love the Beeler Gruyere, Hoch Ybrig, or any of the fabulous Willi Schmid cheeses, she is the woman to thank.
This year, Caroline has created a new and very exciting program called Adopt an Alp. Essentially, we have “adopted” a very traditional cheese from a single Swiss producer. The farmer/cheesemaker will take his animals up to the high Alps of Switzerland for the annual transhumance (the moving of the animals to higher altitudes), so they may enjoy the finest and lushest pasture in the world. The cows will graze during the summer, and a very small amount of a traditional alpine style cheese will be made from the early summer until the cold hits again in early fall. After a long and quiet aging period, the cheese will be shipped to Arrowine just in the time for winter. What’s so neat about this program is that we get updates on our cheese directly from the farmer. The farmer also gives us special insights into the challenges and rewards of life in the high Alps. We thought that you, our curious customers, would love to hear all about the birth and the life of a very special cheese. Also, this cheese is so rare and traditional that it would never normally leave Switzerland. Very few, if any, other shops in the States will be able to get a hold of this gem.
The Alp we have chosen to adopt is called Alp Kohlschlag. At an elevation at 1454 feet, this Alpine dairy overlooks the town of Mels and the Rhine valley in Eastern Switzerland. The Alp towers above the German-speaking Toggenburg region, an area rich in dairy tradition. In addition to farming and cheesemaking, this group operates a small restaurant which is frequented by hikers. Only eight people make up the crew of this operation. Together they moved 133 cows, 147 young cattle, 180 pigs, and 2 donkeys up to the meadows of Kohlschlag in late June. They will remain there, working and creating, until the weather determines that they move back down the mountain in the fall. The extremely wet and cold spring delayed the transhumance but it is predicted that about 3000 wheels of cheese will be made this year.
As we get updates on our “baby”, we will be sure to keep you informed. Meanwhile, check out the photos below from the farmers!