Alp Maran (GR)

Alp Maran – like the three neighboring Alps Carmenna, Praetschli and Sattel – are owned by the the community and the farmers of Chur, the oldest alpine city in all of Switzerland. About 400 cows, the majority brown and the rest red ones, spend their summers on these four Alps located just above the ski resort of Arosa, on altitudes of 5,500 feet and higher. On Maran, there’s about 60 cows. There’s also some small herds of sheep, goats and pigs on all four of these Alps of the Graubünden (Grison) canton.

New Year's Day on Alp Maran

New Year’s Day on Alp Maran

The dairy on Alp Maran was completely renovated in 2009 and now also handles the milk – which is sent to the production place on Maran via pipelines – from the other three Alps. Walter Niklaus, a veteran Adopt-an-Alp cheese maker, is in charge of all the cheeses, dairy products and the team of five full time employees.

A rarity in transhumance: a state-of-the-art dairy.

A rarity in transhumance: a state-of-the-art dairy.

During the summer, he expects to transform over 100,000 gallons of milk into wonderful cheeses and other delicacies. The dairy is public domain of the Citizens Union of Chur and our crew members are therefore employees of the union.

Wooden shelves are drying under the rising sun.

Wooden shelves are drying under the rising sun.

Bea Cavigelli tends to the restaurant and cheese shop. Niklaus and Cavigelli are the core of a well balanced team that has been working together for the past few summers and is used to each other and the specific circumstances of Alp Maran. However, there will be changes for 2016. Before the start of the season an annex to the current facility will be completed: “It is the place for our fondue production and will also feature a aging cellar for our soft ripened cheeses”, says Niklaus. Furthermore a new cheese press should help save some labor. And, as usual, coming August a cheese maker apprentice will join the crew.

The Restaurant with outside seating and the cheese makers at work in the dairy.

The Restaurant with outside seating and the cheese makers at work.

Besides some fresh cheeses, Niklaus produces Alpkaese, Raclette and Grottino, a moist cured Ticino style cheese with a grayish, natural rind and a slightly tangy, semihard paste.

Master Walter Niklaus and his goodies

Master Walter Niklaus and his goodies

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