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The Ahrntal valley and its Cheese

The valley of pastures, sunny mountain meadows, sheep, cows and goats and mountain cheese "Graukäse"

“Graukäse” cheese

Ahrntal Graukäse (Ahrntal Valley grey cheese) is a member of the acid curd cheese family. These cheeses are made by coagulating curdled milk without the addition of rennet and have been widespread in the Tyrolean Alps for as long as anyone can remember. The cheese’s characteristics alone bear witness to its ancient origins long before the emergence of cheese dairy technologies. Graukäse occupied an important place on the sparse list of means of subsistence available in the economically lean environment of the mountain people.

And Graukäse really is lean – perhaps even the leanest of all cheeses. So lean, that the fat content in the dry mass does not exceed 2%. The reason for this distinctive feature lies in its type and composition. The base product for making grey cheese is what is left of the milk after butter is churned.

In South Tyrol Graukäse is particularly widespread in the Ahrntal Valley and the two smaller valleys that branch off it, Mühlwald and Weissenbach.


Graukäse: renaissance in top-level South Tyrolean gastronomy

Where once the cheese made from sour skimmed milk was considered to be “poor people’s food”, these days it is enjoying a renaissance in top-level gastronomySlowfood even conferred a “Presidio” upon it, the highest possible distinction.




Development scheme

Over recent decades a positive invasion of farm and mountain dairy cheeses has practically driven out Graukäse. It is only still produced for home consumption on individual mountain farms or in just a few cooperative alpine dairies. The Ahrntal Graukäse Development Project aims to publicise and circulate the original production methods again. Events such as the “Ahrntal GrauKäse Days” and the “Autumn of Mountains and Cheese” aim to raise well-deserved awareness of this unique product.



After all of the cream has been skimmed off, the milk sits for up to two days in containers and during this period the natural sour milk curdling process begins. Next, the mass is carefully and slowly heated up and once the whey has separated out, the curds are broken up by hand. After this, they are seasoned with salt and if desired a little pepper. The process is rounded off by putting the curds in moulds. The cheese takes between two and three weeks to mature. However, some producers leave their Graukäse to mature “cold” for up to twelve more weeks.

The progressive maturation allows natural grey and blue mould to grow. It has no rind, a marbled body with a graduated light, chalky-white centre, which may become yellowy and sometimes waxy. Its aroma is pervasive due to the acidic and fermentative components. A bitter taste dominates the flavour, which becomes ever more striking as the cheese becomes increasingly mature. This depends on how much whey the cheesemaker leaves in the mass at the time that the curds are placed in the mould.


Cheese dairy visits in Ahrntal valley




Lush, dark green grass, glacial streams, pine trees, larches, moss & mushrooms, every now and then a hare or a hedgehog, fox or chamois, and right in the middle of it all Bergschaf and Spectacled sheep, Sprinze cattle, Graue sheep, Edelziege goats: ideal conditions for making high quality, delicious cheese. The Ahrntal Valley is the valley of pastures, sunny mountain meadows, sheep, cows and goats, Ahrntaler Bergkäse (mountain cheese), which depending on its origin ranges from mild and creamy to extra aromatic and strong.


The treasures of the farms in Aurina valley

Anyone who is interested in “Kasen” (cheesemaking) has a multitude of opportunities to find out more about it. On farms like the Stillwagerhof in Sand in Taufers/Campo Tures everyone can get involved: the guests become familiar with milking the cows, harvesting the potatoes and making cheese. At the Hochgruberhof in Mühlwald/Selva dei Molini the farmer, Rita, lets visitors look over her shoulder as she makes creamy yoghurt from milk produced on the farm. Michael from the Eggemoa in Mühlwald/Selva dei Molini shows visitors how to churn delicious cream cheese in his small new cheese shop. With Agnes from the alp by Lake Neves in Lappach/Lappago, cheese connoisseurs are initiated into the production of Ahrntal Valley Graukäse. The Goasroscht in Kematen/Caminata and the Kleinstahlhof in St. Johann/San Giovanni are where it’s at for fans of goat's cheese. The Neuhaushof on the sunny slopes of Ahornach/Acereto specialises in Hochgall and wild herb cheeses. Whilst at the Moarhof in the heart of Ahornach/Acereto, the farmer, Claudia Eder, demonstrates the production of Ahrntal Valley Graukäse and “Graukäse Ziggolan” – as they were once made.


Not-to-be-missed cheese-events in Ahrntal valley

Cheesy event highlight in the Ahrntal Valley
: The Cheese Festival in Sand in Taufers: cheese and gourmet market, a trade fair and meeting of like minds.
In winter too, it is possible to taste speciality cheeses from the Ahrntal Valley and all over South Tyrol – even on the slopes. "Ski & Cheese" is the weekly event in the Speikboden ski resort, during which the qualified cheese sommelier, Martin Pircher, guides visitors into the fascinating world of cheese production with his tales.

Did you know that in Ahrntal valley a type of cheese matures  1,000 meters underground? In the St. Ignaz tgallery of the old copper mine in Prettau/Predoi.
Cheese dairies in Ahrntal valley
Eggemoa cheese dairy
Eggemoa cheese dairy
Dorf / Paese 53
39030 Mühlwald / Selva dei Molini
Winkelweg / Via Winkel 39
39032 Sand in Taufers / Campo Tures
Hochgruberhof cheese dairy
Hochgruberhof cheese dairy
Gornerweg / Via Gorner 100
39030 Mühlwald / Selva dei Molini
Mittermair cheese dairy
Mittermair cheese dairy
Mühlwald / Selva dei Molini 57
39030 Mühlwald / Selva dei Molini
Moarhof Cheese dairy
Moarhof Cheese dairy
Kirchdorf / Via Kirchdorf 21
39030 Ahornach / Acereto
Neuhaus Hof Cheese dairy
Neuhaus Hof Cheese dairy
Ahornach / Acereto 158
39032 Ahornach / Acereto
Kleinstahlhof - Cheese dairy
Kleinstahlhof - Cheese dairy
Brunnberg 20
39030 St. Johann/Ahrntal valley
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