Alp Arni-Schwand is situated on the scenic alpine route between Giswil and Sörenberg amidst the peaks of the central Swiss Alps. For more than 25 years it is operated by Urs and Ida Müller-Stalder. They are supported bei their three daughters Heidi, Nadja, and Sonja. Whilst Heidi with an education in hotel management tends to the animals in the summer, Nadja (restaurateur) and Sonja (retail specialist) help in their free time in various ways.
The parents and Heidi have different jobs in the winter. Urs works at the skilifts of the Mörlialp AG, his wife is the chef at the restaurant “Giswilerstock” and Heidi works at the alp hotel “Schwand” in Sörenberg.
Alp Arni-Schwand consists of the “Unterstafel” at an altitude of 4500 feet a.s.l. and the Arni-Zilflucht at 4700 feet. Here are also located the dairy, the little restaurant (“Beizli”) and the chalet. During transhumance the animals change from Unterstafel to Zilflucht twice before they return to their winter home.
The Müller family moves 36 cows from 6 different farms from Giswil up to Alp Arni-Schwand. The cheesemaking takes place from end of May to mid June, end of July to mid August and in September. The rest of the milk (ca. 50%) is sold to ZMP, the milk producer association of Central Switzerland.
This practice is a relict from the time of the Swiss Cheese Union where everything was regulated. During that tenure 4.5 tons Alpage Sbrinz for the Union and 1 ton of Alpkäse for direct selling was produced on Arni-Schwand. When the Union was disbanded the Müllers couldn’t sell Sbrinz anymore. Therefore they sold the milk and only produced small amounts of Alpkäse.
In 2002 they added milk from another farm. Ever since the productions has increased from year to year. Right now the produce about 4 tons of cheese which makes for 50% of the milk the cows produce. “We certainly have the capacity to produce more”, says Urs Müller.