When we visited Alp Site with the winners of the Adopt-an-Alp contest in June 2016 we immediately fell in love with the place. The excellent raclette they served for lunch was one thing. But more catching was the openness and the enthusiasm of our hosts, Simon Santschi (35) and his wife Nadja (32). Just before they started transhumance 2020, the couple became parents for the second time: Son Mauro was born in May.
Whereas Simon has an education as a farmer and cheesemaker Nadja had never imagined becoming a farmer’s wife. However, she has adapted very well. How creative she is not just around the operation shows the fact that she published her second children’s book in 2020: “Flöckli” (little flake) is the story about a sheep.
You reach Alp Site after an about 20 minutes drive from the town of Zweisimmen in midst the Bernese Alps. Since 1986 the Alp is owned by Simon’s parents, Alfred and Mathilde Santschi. Their youngest son Hans (born 1988) is in charge of their farm in the valley in the village of Sigriswil. Simon (1986) works Alp Site whereby now he is a co-owner. In the winter he works as a ski instructor whilst Nadja works in the office of the local ski school. The Santschi’s oldest son, Benjamin (1984) owns an excavating company and helps the family where help is needed.
Simon and Nadja as well as their polish helper Piotr (39) tend to 40 cows, 15 heifers, and around 100 pigs on Alp Site. The meadows spread out in an altitude from 4100 to 5300 feet. The neighboring Alp Zimmerboden belongs to the family as well. Those two operations work closely together. Two further Alp operations bring their milk to Alp Site which can add up to 2300 l/day (over 600 gals.) in the peak of transhumance.
This leads to a total cheese production of over 14 tons per summer. Most of it makes for the Berner Oberländer Alpkäse AOP, however, Mutschli and Raclette are produced as well. All the whey is fed to the pigs and their meat is sold at the end of transhumance.
Besides the restaurant, there is also an event room on the second floor of the chalet. It is often used for weddings.