Adopt an Alp: Schwagalp Alpkäse cheese


We’re bringing you Schwagalp Alpkäse cheese as part of the Adopt and Alp effort.  Each year since 2015, Zingerman’s Delicatessen has helped support the family farmers and cheesemakers in the Alps of Switzerland through our Adopt An Alp effort. We import different Alpage cheeses–each with a special story about the lifestyle, traditions, people and animals who seasonally move around the Alps to make these incredible cheeses. We invite you to learn, buy, and enjoy these cheeses with us!

Transhumance is a tradition of people and animals moving in accordance with the seasons.  It originated over 8,000 years ago and is how these Alpage cheeses are made.  Dairy farmers in Switzerland move their family and cows from the valley to the higher meadows during the summer season to escape the heat and produce these cheeses.

The cheese begin to arrive at the Deli in the fall and we usually have enough to get us through the holidays.  We enjoy these cheeses on a cheeseboard, in a fondue, or just for snacking.  For more information about the Adopt and Alp effort to connect American cheesemongers and consumers with Alpage cheeses, visit their website or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.

Alp Schwägalp

Alp Schwägalp is located in the Alpstein-Säntis region, between the Cantons of St. Gall and the Appenzells, at the foot of the impressive 4000 foot high Säntis.  In 1996,  Alpschaukäserei Schwägalp was founded to help support transhumance in this alpine region.  Farmers and families had been finding it more convenient for their income to stay in the valley and sell their milk to larger producers.  The Alpschaukäserei Schwägalp helped reverse this trend by teaming up with the farmers to build a showcase dairy to receive milk from 55 small herds. Farmers could continue doing their farming by transhumance while a team of professional cheesemakers takes care of crafting the precious summer milk into fine Alp cheeses.

The dairy underwent a renovation in 2012 to become more efficient, but the original process of heating the milk through fire and hot water was retained. Visitors can witness the production process.

In 2020, director Werner Näf counts on the following team: Sämi Raschle (master cheesemaker), Udo Freude (Germany, cheesemaker), Michal Hycl (Czech Republic, responsible for the cellar), and helpers Alfred Meier and Karel Starovicky (Czech Republic). During the summer months, they transform about 250,000 gallons of milk into Alpkäse, Mutschli, Raclette, and some specialties that only are sold locally.  It is the Alpkäse that we have brought to Zingerman’s Deli for you to try.


photo credits Adopt an Alp