Flavors of Alpine Life

The milk production in the Aosta Valley leads to a rich variety of tastes and consistencies. They all come from Alpine pastures, and the Fontina PDO is probably the most famous kind of cheese produced in the region. This product is realised by following ancient gestures and techniques and by using milk coming from only one milking of cow belonging to the Valdôtain breed (pezzata rossa, pezzata nera and castana). A unique tale, which can be told thanks to particular geographical conditions, high-quality raw materials and ancient techniques.

When speaking about Fontina we need to distinguish between the winter production, in which cows eat hay, and the summer production, in which cows live in pastures and, thus, eat various mountain herbs (mountain thyme, gentians, rhododendron, violas and milfoil), whose scents characterise the production of Fontina d’Alpeggio (fontina produced in Alpine pastures).

In addition to the Fontina PDO, dairies and local farms produce other kinds of cheese, both fresh and seasoned: different kinds of Toma, butter, Seras, a tasty kind of ricotta cheese which is obtained after the production of Fontina or Toma, Reblec, a fresh and creamy cheese obtained thanks to the cream that spontaneously appears on the surface, but also goat cheese and other dairy products.

Accessible on request, these farms also own some stores; during the summer some of them also organise visits of the Alpine pastures.

But where to, now?

We have two valleys to suggest.

Valpelline

Discover the spectacular storehouse dug inside an ancient copper mine in which Fontina is seasoned

The Cooperativa produttori latte e fontina visitors centre, located in Valpelline, has various exhibition halls with illustrations and objects linked to the history and the producing process of Fontina, a projection hall to discover the various phases of production, and a store. But the most surprising elements are the tunnels dug in the rocks to season Fontina: a storehouse, open at fixed times, contains hundreds of cheeses which are seasoning and which are daily and manually controlled.

In addition to this charming storehouse, in the Valpelline there is the highest concentration of accessible agricultural farms in the Aosta Valley:

  • In Ollomont the Conca di By unites eight Alpine pastures and, thus, it proposes eight different kinds of Fontine di alpeggio. Three of them won the gold medal at the Concorso regionale delle Fontine di alpeggio in 2018
  • In Bionaz the Azienda agricola Leo Bétemps, which won several prizes at the Concorso regionale delle Fontine di alpeggio too, has a store in the area of Place Moulin and the Azienda agricola La Tza by Eliana Fiorini is specialised in the production of goat cheese obtained by processing the milk of goats belonging to the ‘Camosciata delle Alpi’ breed
  • In Gignod the Azienda agricola D&D by Duclos Christian and Lorenzo has a store open every day where one can find Fontina, toma, Reblec, ricotta cheese, brossa, butter, tomini and yogurt

Ayas Valley

Discover the other Valdôtain PDO label, Valle d’Aosta Fromadzo PDO

The cheese production of the Val d’Ayas is characterised by the production of the second PDO product of the Aosta Valley, the Valle d’Aosta Fromadzo PDO, obtained by processing milk coming from Valdôtain-breed cows which is milked only in the pastures of the high Ayas valley. Produced with semi-skimmed raw milk of at least two milkings, the summer production of Fromadzo PDO is characterised by a particular scent due to the flowers that grow in the pastures.

To discover Fromadzo PDO visitors need to visit Fromagerie Haut Val d’Ayas in Brusson. Established in 2004 to rationalise the production and transformation of local milk by following the ancient tradition of community diaries, today it gathers about 65 producers. The cooperative owns exhibition halls and it is also possible to assist to the various production phases. The store proposes aromatised versions of toma (with juniper, chilli, chive and mountain herbs) and the famous toma di Gressoney, produced in the Lys valley with traditional methods.

Val d’Ayas also has many other farms among which we can cite Società agricola Dondeynaz and Gamba, a tiny family-run business in Brusson,  and the Azienda Agricola Bagnod in Ayas, whose store is open every day.

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