Cheese making is simple. Making good cheese is difficult. Our task is to marry difficult and easy. What makes the quality of one milk superior to another?
Breed and animal selection
For many years now, the Regional Authorities have introduced a family tree certifying the Valdostan cattle breed. This breed is average-small build, with strong hoofs; overall its physique is particularly suited to the steep, rough alpine terrain and the brusque changes in weather conditions. Two typical local varieties were eventually defined after a long period of research and careful selection: the Pezzata Nera, which has a more aggressive temperament and is bred for its meat, whereas the Pezzata Rossa is more docile but gives a higher milk yield.
Two factors prevent intensive breeding in Valle d’Aosta: the morphology of the region and a specific regional law which regulates the maximum number of cattle that can be housed in a cowshed in proportion to the acreage of land available for grazing. These two facts, plus the fact that the traditional occupation of the population is cattle rearing, have produced a type of farming which shows particular care for the animals and their needs.
It is a fact that, in Valle d’Aosta, the bond between cow and man traditionally goes beyond the customary relationship between master and animal. Not only is the cattle thought of a working companion, but a companion in life.
Cattle rearing also entails good nourishment. Consequently, during the month of June our herds are transferred to the summer pastures. Here, they graze freely above the tree-line where the grass and flowers in the extensive meadows are watered by pure, limpid glacial water which secures the unique properties of our milk.
During the winter months, the cows are fed on hay mown during the summer in the lowland meadows, thus avoiding imported hay, as set out in the rules governing Fontina production. For this reason no chemical products are used; we prefer natural methods which follow the cadence of the seasons when cultivating and fertilising the fields.
Hygiene and heath
Our co-operative and, it goes without saying, our members, are in line with the HACCP,”Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point” regulations. The inspections, tests and analyses carried out by our co-operative serve a very precise purpose – to guarantee the exceptionally high standard of our products and to satisfy our customers’ demands. By means of microbiological, chemical and physiochemical tests, we are able to monitor and control the health standard and safety of both the raw materials and finished products.