On June 1, 2017 the 4 military galleries in Reichenbach, Switzerland, were converted into cheese caves for Gourmino’s Affinage and Selection operations. The location is situated in the Bernese Oberland, at the foot of the imposing mountain massif Blüemlisalp. The climate in the heart of the mountain is perfect for cheese ripening. With this new endeavour, Gourmino increases its expertise in the field and provides its competences in selection and affinage also to others.
Gourmino is a trading company belonging to our cheesemakers which delivers approximately 30 countries. Our core skill is the affinage and selection (cheese ripening and cheese selection) of Emmentaler AOP, Le Gruyère AOP and semihard cheeses produced in its own mountain and village dairies. Uncompromising quality and strategy with our expertise in selection allows Gourmino a niche positioning in the long ripening segment. Wheels of Emmentaler AOP and Le Gruyère AOP are ripened by Gourmino up to 24 months.
Affinage in the mountain – a perfect climate for cheese ripening
With the 4 new military galleries, Gourmino will be able to further develop its affinage skills. The climate in the heart of the mountain is perfect for cheese ripening. The installed air control system will therefore only allow us to adjust the moisture level and to guarantee a constant temperature.
In the new caves, Gourmino will ripen for its own accounts; Emmentaler AOP, Le Gruyère AOP and semi-hard cheese specialties. As soon as the galleries are fully operative, new products will be developed in the mountain climate and launched onto the market later on. These are product range enhancements which will be possible due to the new opportunities of the affinage in the mountain.
Our cheese house in Langnau im Emmental will remain our main affinage and selection site as well as our logistical hub. Gourmino is the last remaining cheese house in the Emmental which was at one time the most important cheese trading center. This place is therefore very important for Gourmino and the Emmental area. There, the cheeses are still cared for by hand. This allows Gourmino to offer exclusive products and product quality.
Sustainability guides the project
To build a new cheese ripening cave from scratch on a green meadow would have been an alternative – costly but possible. The conversion of the military galleries which were built by the army after the second world war was not only preferred because of the costs, but also for the benefit of the forces of nature lending to the affinage of our cheeses. This was a rare opportunity!
The construction lasted ten months. Under the management of Gasser Felstechnik in Lungern, Switzerland, a tunnel has been blasted into the rocks to connect the four isolated military galleries and to optimize the flow of goods.
Not only the natural climate is worth to mention regarding the sustainability of the project. During the construction, a lot of work was assigned to craftsmen in the region. To secure the energy supply Gourmino relies on Swiss hydroelectric power. The wood for the shelves (cheese planks) are from Kandertal – the same valley – and were specially prepared by Ryter Holzbau close by in Kandergrund. One full year was needed for the sourcing and making of the wood shelves, which defined the timing of the construction.
Selection and affinage services for third parties
The storage capacity in Reichenbach is large enough to offer affinage services as well. With its new facility in Reichenbach Gourmino can settle its position as affineur on the market and professionalize its core competence in cheese selection and affinage.
Into the future with optimism
The project is financed by Valiant Bank and with additional loans from our own cheese dairies. Gourmino is and remains an independent company owned by cheesemakers. The committed Gourmino cheesemakers and employees carried out the project with lifeblood and optimism with the clear strategy of focusing to ensure a future in small production dairies with top quality cheeses. As president of the building commission, Gourmino cheese maker Hansruedi Gasser has, amongst others, significantly contributed to the project. He is also a member of the Gourmino board and was recently nominated by Emmentaler Switzerland Interbranch organization for the best Emmentaler AOP cheesemaker in the world for 2016.
Gourmino stands for the best cheese quality and is committed to providing a future to the family run cheese dairies and their local dairy farmers and suppliers. Despite a competitive market, Gourmino marks a milestone in its history and looks into the future with a lot of optimism.