Cheese Culture since 1994 – The History of the Mont Vully Cheeses
From Emmentaler to Mont Vully Cheese
We have registered the appellation Mont Vully Cheese and it is only produced at our small dairy in Cressier above Murten/Morat. This was not always the case.
In 1993, when we took over, this dairy was producing mainly Emmental Cheese (known as “Swiss Cheese” in North America). As we were local people, we soon felt that Emmental cheese should be made in the Emmental and not in Cressier/Fribourg. Therefore, with great enthusiasm and optimism we put our hearts into developing a new kind of cheese. The first Mont Vully was produced in 1994: the cheese immediately found favour with cheese lovers; people began to ask for it more frequently and in larger quantities. As a result we were constantly able to increase production. As time went by, we were making more Mont Vully than Emmental and in 1998, only four years later, we stopped making Emmental altogether.
In 1998 we won a gold medal at the prestigious Käsiade in Tirol, Austria, in a field of 357 competitors. In the semi-hard cheese category our Mont Vully was classified as exceptional. This award lent us wings and made specialist cheese buyers sit up and take notice.
Mont Vully cheese noticeably evolved thanks to insider’s tips from cheese connoisseurs and experts who love the cheese and enjoy every day cheese for everyone’s pleasure. We are quite proud about this fact. Nevertheless, we haven’t rested on our laurels: In 2003, the Mont Vully Classique had two “siblings” join the family; The Mont Vully Bio and Mont Vully Réserve.
When Mont Vully Bio was awarded the prize as the new Swiss Cheese Champion at the Cheese Makers Championship on October 27, 2006 in Huttwil, it was another high point in the history of our cheeses. It was officially recognized as best of the best in the all-round cheese categories, and was able to hold the official title for two years.
Over the years, the insider’s tip on these well-loved semi-hard cheeses spread throughout Switzerland and reached over borders to countries far and wide. Thus, we are exporting more and more Mont Vully cheese to our neighbouring countries, including to the cheese loving country of France and even overseas. In 2010, our especially piquant Réserve won the silver medal at the World Champion Cheese Contest WCCC in Wisconsin, USA.
When the Mont Vully cheese production reached about 200 tonnes per year, it was soon no longer possible for every cheese to ripen in our small cheese cellar. So we decided to build a new cheese cellar in Cressier that is equipped with an automatic cheese turning machine. Turning cheeses regularly is necessary so that the cheeses can uniformly ripen. Thus, we inaugurated our newly built cheese cellar at the edge of Cressier’s village in 2013. This was also an especially good move for the backs of our cheese makers’ team: The energy-sapping cheese turning by physical strength alone really builds muscles but is also a huge strain on the spine. Thanks to the new back-friendly cheese turning machinery, no more backaches.
Our Mont Vully cheese has been triumphant since 1994. In 2014, we celebrated our anniversary with a party with business partners and employees at a performance of the open-air theatre 1476, which was premiered above Murten on the original battlefield. Of course, Mont Vully cheese was served and we were also represented as a sponsor of 1476.
Since 1994, our Mont Vully cheese has triumphed again and again. We celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a jubilee gala that included our business partners and staff at the “1476” performance at the open-air theatre above Murten, located on the original Battle of Murten grounds. Of course, Mont Vully cheese was served, as well as being one of the main sponsors of the “1476” event.
Another great success at the world’s biggest competition. In March 2022, the expert jury awarded all three Mont Vully cheese specialities in their respective categories: The Classique won bronze, the Bio silver and the Réserve came top for the first time with gold!
In 2024, the cheese celebrates its 30th anniversary! It is planned to celebrate it on the occasion of the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the new cheese dairy.
The exact “timetable” will be determined in the course of 2023.
Craftmanship and quality
Production and Quality Step by Step
Let us take you step by step through the production process, taking Mont Vully Bio as an example, starting with the delivery of the milk and ending with the mature cheese.
Every morning at 7:30 the milk is delivered by Müller & Sahli Bio-Milch, an organic dairy farm which also adheres to the strict guidelines of Bio Suisse. Incidentally, only milk from cows fed exclusively on grass and hay is used for our cheeses. This milk is known as silage-free. If milk from cows fed with silage was to be used, there would be a risk that the cheese would not mature properly and quality would be compromised.
First of all, the milk is carefully tested. Then it is stored in our tanks before being made into cheese, but never longer than 48 hours.
The tested, fresh, raw milk is thermised, i.e. heated for 20 seconds at 66°C. Thermisation serves to eliminate undesirable bacteria without destroying the desired ‘good’ bacteria. The latter are extremely important for the maturing process, flavour and texture.
We then add lactic acid bacteria (cultures) and rennet to the milk. Rennet is an enzyme which makes the milk curdle. After about 40 minutes the liquid milk has coagulated. Next this solidified milk mass is cut up and shredded with a wire ‘harp’. Its texture now resembles cottage cheese (and is indeed the first step towards making cottage cheese as you know it). The curds are then heated to approx. 40°C and the whey is drained off before being carefully transferred to moulds. Lastly, the cheeses are marked with the grape imprint, the organic ‘bud’ signet, the date and dairy’s ID number.
The wheels of cheese are then left to soak in brine for 24 hours.
Next comes the refining and maturing process: the wheels mature in a cellar at a temperature of 12 -16°C and are carefully washed with saltwater and Pinot Noir several times a week.
Classique and Bio are left to mature for at least 10 weeks, the Réserve for at least 25 weeks.
Quality Management and Production Control
Quality assurance begins at our suppliers. We only accept milk from farms that are inspected regularly, both by us and by official external organisations. We also make sure that all ingredients are of the highest quality.
We have strict internal rules relating to hygiene and cleanliness, apart from which our premises are regularly inspected by the Food Inspectorate in the Canton of Fribourg.
Each wheel of cheese has specific markings which enable us to determine exactly when it was made.
We have also been certified by the IFS/BRC (an international standards organisation) and thus fulfil their strict guidelines for suppliers.
Nutritional Values and Degree of Ripeness
Our Mont Vully cheese is not only a gourmet delight but also a natural and healthy food which covers our daily requirements of the most important vitamins such as A, B2, B12 and D and of nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus. Like most hard and semi-hard cheeses, Mont Vully does not contain lactose and is therefore suitable for consumption by people with lactose intolerance.
|Classique and Bio||Réserve|
|Fat content min. 50 % in dry matter|
|Height||6 – 9 cm||6 – 9 cm|
|Weight per wheel||5 – 7 kg||5 – 7 kg|
|Diameter||30 cm||30 cm|
|Ageing||10 – 20 weeks||25 – 52 weeks|
|Protein||24 g||25,5 g|
|Fat||33 g||35,7 g|
|Water||38 g||34 g|
|Minerals||2,5 g||2,7 g|
|Salt||1,5 g||1,6 g|
|Lactic acid||1 g||0,5 g|
|Units of energy||390 kcal, 1630 kJ||405 kcal, 1680 kJ|
Serving Suggestions and Storage Tips
Mont Vully cheese is usually sold over the counter by specialist cheese shops and some supermarkets. At home, we recommend that you keep the cheese, wrapped in cling film, on the middle shelf of your refrigerator (the temperature in the vegetable drawers at the bottom is usually too low). To enable the aroma to unfold, we recommend taking the cheese out of the fridge at least half an hour before it is served.
How long can it be kept?
In principle, cheese can be eaten as long as it looks and smells good. If the surface looks dry or discoloured, all you have to do is cut off the top layer. This is also all you need to do if mould has formed on the cut surface.
In general, we advise against freezing Mont Vully cheese. It loses its quality, no longer tastes as good and becomes crumbly.
However, if you do have leftovers, the best thing to do is grate them, freeze the grated cheese for up to 6 months and then use for cheese tarts or gratins.