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Smile and say cheese!
C Adolf Bereuter - Bregenzerwald Tourismus

Smile and say cheese!

Smile and say cheese!

Cheesemaker Christoph Schwarzmann has won several prizes with his Dorfkäse (village cheese) from the Langenegg cheesemaking dairy. He has been awarded the title “Cheesemaker of the Year” four times. Along with his managing director, Anton Bader, he has expanded the business. Since 2021, their products mature in a modern cheese cellar on site. Both appreciate when passersby admire their work.

Here it is, right out in the open, for all to see. Here at the cheesemaking dairy in Langenegg, production is like an open book and anyone passing by can take a good long look. Naturally, the very highest hygienic standards still apply and trespassing is prohibited, but… “… having a peek inside is allowed, even expressly encouraged,” explains Managing Director Anton Bader. It’s all in keeping with our dairy’s motto: “Purely for connoisseurs.”

The cheese they make is based on hay milk. Artificial additives have no place here. In addition to clarified and Alpine dairy butter varieties, the dairy produces a dozen types of cheese from Räss to espresso and even Blütenkäse (blossom cheese). The latter is their latest creation. On Mondays and Fridays, the Lädele shop features dairyman’s soup, which typically sells out quickly. Dorfkäse (village cheese) is also very popular. Christoph Schwarzmann, the head of operations, describes it as being “smooth, mild, & aromatic.” Incidentally, the jury of the 2021 Vorarlberg Cheese Awards selected two of Christoph’s cheese varieties as the winners in two categories (“mild semi-hard cheese and spicy”). Christoph himself was awarded the title “Cheesemaker of the Year” for the fourth time.

In spite of the accolades, the people at the cheesemaking dairy in Langenegg are not the types to rest on their laurels. They are instead always looking to improve and evolve, which is why they invested five million euros in the further development of operation. Within a year, the company built a dedicated cheese cellar, which is truly a high-tech operation. Since that time, the only cheese to mature in the neighbouring village of Lingenau is their mountain cheese. “We only employ skilled personnel with a high level of technical understanding. We train our own apprentices as well,” says Anton Bader. Meanwhile, a robot they’ve affectionately named “Reinhard” (after the long-time head of the dairy Reinhard Bechter), tends to as many as 23,000 wheels of cheese. The foundation for all this is the 10,000 liters of milk they receive daily from 22 Langenegg farmers. In spite of these big numbers, cheesemaker Christoph insists that “quality over quantity” is still the rule and not the exception. Their cheeses are sold mainly at SPAR and ADEG stores in Vorarlberg. There are also shops in the Lake Constance area in addition to small specialty stores, mostly in Vorarlberg and Bavaria. “We also supply retailers in Hanover, Berlin and even the Naschmarkt market in Vienna,” says Anton Bader with a measure of pride. Often such cooperations arise when cheese dealers spend their holidays in the Bregenzerwald. Around ten percent of sales are direct sales in the shop, including from the cheese vending machine out front or the online shop.

Cheese has been made in Langenegg for more than 120 years. In 1978, three smaller local dairies merged to form the current company, which is a cooperative comprising sixty members. “Two deliver their milk via cable car to the collection point. Another has converted his Unimog tractor into a milk tanker. Relying on local producers keeps the added value here in our community,” explains Anton Bader. Good relationships are very important to Anton and Christoph. This goes beyond the cheesemaking operation as well. “It’s important to deal fairly with our partners,” Anton emphasises. “It is only possible to successfully lead a cooperative business of this size into the future with good teamwork. And this only works if you know what’s happening at the grassroots level as well.” Anton is a farmer and milk supplier himself, so he knows well the challenges his colleagues face. Christoph’s wife Edith is also a farmer. “We have close to fifty cows on our farm,” says the Cheesemaker of the Year. “Sitting on the milking stool every day helps to keep you grounded.”

Author: Thorsten Bayer
Travel Magazine Issue: Winter 2022-23