A Visit to The Cheese Grotto in Gstaad
Whilst staying at the Gstaad Palace recently we went to visit to the Cheese Grotto or Cheese Cave, located about 10 minutes away from the hotel, higher up the mountain.
It’s a little bit like a bunker and is in fact a repurposed underground water reservoir which is hidden under a little hill with a giant fondue pot and a gondola on top of it. The doorway has the distinctive Gstaad cheese symbol on the front – so you know you are in the right place!
René, the manager of the Gstaad Dairy took us down the steep stairs into the cool (it’s between 5 and 10 degrees – so do wear a jacket !) room filled with cheese. Don’t wear high heels either, as the steps are quite steep! As soon as the door opens you can smell the cheese but once inside you really don’t notice it anymore. He explained that there are 71 farmers whose milk contributes to the cheese which is stored here until it is sufficiently mature and ready to be eaten. The cheese is neatly stacked on tall wooden racks.
The cheese needs to be matured for a minimum of 18 months he explained, but is at its best between 2 and 3 years.
During the Summer the cows are high up in the mountain pastures so the farmers make the cheese themselves, then bring it down to the Cheese Grotto for maturation at the end of the season. However from September till May the cheese is produced in Gstaad and then stored here. The wooden racks house up to 3,000 wheels of this very popular “Alpine Gold”.
Each wheel of cheese weighs approximately 10kg and is worth around CHF 250 francs. The cheese is sold in the local Molkerei in the town of Gstaad, to the local hotels and also to the supermarkets Coop and Migros. The “Berner Alpkäse” is the cheese that is produced by the cooperative of farmers in the Summer months and the” Gstaader” cheese is produced during the rest of the year at the Molkerei.
Berner Aplkäse with the special slicer
The Berner Aplkäse is a hard cheese, similar in texture to Parmesan cheese which they cut into long slices with a special slicer, or roll into long tubes. The Gstaader on the other hand is a lot softer and similar in texture to Emmental.
A 150 year old cheese – well past its sell buy date!
René showed us one very old example of cheese on display which had been discovered in a local farmhouse and was reckoned to be around 150 years old.
We ended the tour with some cheese sampling and a choice of wine, water or orange juice.
It was a great way to find out about this local tradition and to see first hand these large wheels of local cheese from the region. If you fancy, you can order a Cheese Fondue Backpack from the Molkerei in Gstaad and enjoy it sitting in the round giant fondue pot on top of the Cheese Cave!
Whilst you’re there do enjoy the stunning Alpine views.
A Visit to The Cheese Cave
Opening Hours: All year round by booking at least one day in advance.
Tel: +41 33 744 11 15
How many people: Min.6 people, up to 25 maximum
Price: Adult CHF 28, Children under 16 CHF 14 , plus reductions for groups of 16 or more
Our trip was organised through the Gstaad Palace – but you can contact Cheese Grotto directly as per the details above.
Hotel Gstaad Palace
Tips for a visit to the Cheese Cave:
- Wear a warm jacket as it is very cold (5-10 degrees inside)
- Wear sensible shoes as the 2 ladders you use to get down are quite steep
- Take in the views at the top of the building as you can see for miles
- There are some lovely walks in this area and we came across this ostrich in a field nearby
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