Around the middle of June Theres and Ernst Reichenbach, together with their children, grandchildren and 18 Simmental cows, move up from their farm in Gstaad to Alp Satteleggli. It is located 1600 m (4,800 ft) above sea level, in the deepest Berner Oberland (Bernese Alps), roughly said high above the village of Feutersoey and just beneath the summit of the Hohfluh mountain. Up there they make Berner Alpkäse and Hobelkäse, both AOP cheeses.
The cheeses are made of raw milk warmed over a wood fire. The wheels crafted during the first few weeks weigh about 13 lbs, the ones after that are larger and weigh 20-22 lbs due to the cows delivering more milk. They have a thick, oily rind and a very dense, compact paste with no holes. The flavor is mild, milky and creamy when young, and switches towards sweet caramel notes with more age. Berner Alpkäse reaches its peak at 10-12 months and stays wonderful up to – and long after – the moment it becomes Hobelkäse, at 3 years of maturation. The Hobelkäse, as its name suggests, is best when shaved paper-thin on a traditional Hobel (wooden shaver).
The Reichenbachs are a tight knit family where everybody is ready to help if needed. The grandchildren have the center of attention, the count right now is 7. But number 8 and 9 will join the family in August and September, towards the latter part of transhumance.