In the Bregenzerwald region of Vorarlberg, Austria, silvery-brown cows graze in flower-filled alpine pastures. Alpine dairies dot fragrant mountain meadows, and inside traditional farmhouses, wooden-shoed families devote their summer to the production of Bregenzerwald alpine cheese – one of the treasures from the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road.
Not a route you will find on Google Maps, the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road (Bregenzerwald KäseStrasse) is an alliance of over 180 farmers, alps (high-altitude pastures), alpine dairies, cheesemakers, restaurants, and tourism operators passionate about preserving local traditions and producing exceptional cheese.
To help you plan your journey along the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road, here are some highlights from a recent visit to the region.
Hike to an Alpine Dairy in Bregenzerwald
During the summer months, you can walk through lush mountain pastures to an alpine dairy, like Alpe Wildmoos, where aromatic silo-free milk is processed into handmade products using traditional methods.
Silo-free milk (heumilch), is a rare commodity because less than 3% of the milk produced in the European Union is silo-free. The cows that produce this high-quality milk graze on fresh grass and herbs between May and October. During the winter months, the cows eat air-dried hay from valley meadows. This exclusive gourmet diet produces the finest milk for the production of Bregenzerwald cheese.
If you visit the Alpe Wildmoos dairy, be sure to stop at the farmhouse cafe to sample the many culinary treasures from the alpine dairy and kitchen. Plan to taste as many of the cheeses as possible, and keep an eye out for a local delicacy known as Sig. This caramel coloured gem is also known as Bregenzerwald chocolate.
Stop at the Käsekeller in Lingenau
Bregenzerwald’s Käsekeller (cheese cellar) is home to over 32,000 wheels of maturing alpine cheese. Here you can look through a glass wall at a robot working in the automated cheese cellar, learn about the maturation and storage of alpine cheese, taste different types of Bregenzerwald cheese, and purchase cheese and other local products.
If you aren’t able to visit an alpine dairy, the Käsekeller is an excellent place to taste and buy Bregenzerwald cheese.
Collaboration Along the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road
There are more treasures to be discovered along the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road, including the power of collaboration. With an eye to the future and a foot in the past, the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road is ensuring the sustainable production of the highest quality dairy products, while preserving the region’s rich culture. As Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.
The Bregenzerwald region of Vorarlberg, Austria is a destination for connoisseurs who love the good things in life. And, I’m sure you will agree, cheese is one of life’s good things.
- Vorarlberg, Austria borders on Switzerland, Germany and the Principality of Liechtenstein making it an accessible destination from many countries. Vorarlberg extends approximately 100 km from north to south and contains six diverse and delightful regions, including Bregenzerwald. Visit the Vorarlberg Tourism website for more information.
- Alpe Wildmoos, located at the foot of the Winterstaude (1400 m), is one of approximately 90 alpine dairies in Bregenzerwald. To access Alpe Wildmoos, take the Baumgarten cable car from Bezau and hike along a gentle trail for about 45 minutes.
- Bregenzerwald’s Käsekeller (cheese cellar) is located at Zeihenbühl 423, A-6951 Lingenau, Austria.
- If time permits, plan to visit the Alpine Dairy Farming Museum in Hittisau, where you can see a 300-year-old dairy kitchen and learn about cheese-making and milk processing. Visit the Bregenzerwald Tourism website for more information about the region and the many treasures along the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road.
- Members of the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road display the KäseStrasse logo so be sure to look for this logo (see below) when you visit Bregenzerwald.
Have you ever visited an alpine dairy and sampled artisanal cheese? If not, would you like to? For me, it was similar to visiting a winery, and I loved the experience.
Our recent visit to Vorarlberg, Austria was in collaboration with the Vorarlberg State Tourist Board. As always, if I don’t enjoy a destination or experience, I won’t recommend it.