Parpan is a small village in the Churwalden valley in the Canton Grison. It is well known for its alpine skiing and it is also the area where 1976 giant slalom Olympic champion Heini Hemmi grew up. Alp Parpan is operated by a co-op of three farmers as well as by the “Plantahof”, an agricultural education center in the nearby town of Landquart in the River Rhine valley.
The operation covers four different Alp meadows, Stätz, Chötzenberg, Malix, and Plantahof (owned by the center). They are located at an altitude between 5000 and 6000 feet. On those pastures graze a total of 260 cows, 150 heifers, 150 pigs, and almost a 100 suckler cows and “Galtkühe”. The latter are dry cows that don’t give milk anymore.
You’ll find the dairy on Alp Plantahof above Parpan where an over 100 years old barn has been turned into a modern showcase dairy in 2016. It was a multi-year futuristic project that involved all local authorities as well as private donators and helpers. The old structure and appearance were conserved. The dairy installations however are state-of-the-art and environmentally sensitive. As a visitor you can follow the whole cheesemaking process: from milk delivery to production to affinage, and, of course, you can taste the products.
The operation has a new crew: Ruedi Burtscher (48) is the cheesemaker. He is from the Austrian village of Ludesch, very close to the Swiss border. Elisas Bruckner (22), and Nicklas Bruckner (19) are his two sons, they will tend to the animals. In the dairy Ruedi will be supported by Stefanie Roffler (17), who is in her sophomore year as a milk technology apprentice.
During the summer they will produce around 23 tons (over 50,000 lbs) of Alpkäse Parpan. In addition, they make fresh cheeses, butter, yogurt, and whey drinks. All those products are sold in the dairy.
The Alpkäse Parpan received several awards. For instance at the Alpkäse awards of the Canton Grison: it drew the highest grade “excellent”. Furthermore, it came in 2nd at a public tasting in Savognin and 4th at the huge competition of the OLMA aexhibition in the city of St. Gall, the biggest agricultural show in Switzerland.