Alpine cheesemaker

Nicolas, a cheesemaker at l’Etivaz, shares his daily life on the mountain pasture.

A family business

The Paquier-Mottier chalet, nestled on a mountain pasture at 1,375 meters above sea level in the l’Etivaz valley, comes back to life every May with the return of the cattle. Until October, life will be punctuated by the maintenance of the mountain pastures, the care of the animals, and the production of the famous L'Etivaz AOP cheese.

Nicolas Mottier is part of the third generation of the family who has been in charge of the mountain pasture since the early 1980s. Today, the farm is labeled biodynamic and employs five people during the summer season for maintenance work, milking, and making artisanal cheese.

Alpine cheesemaker: a traditional profession

Nicolas grew up on this pasture and learned his trade by observing his parents at work. Today, history is repeating itself. His children are integrated into the daily life and participate in the activities they are able to perform.

What he loves about his profession? Perpetuating this ancestral tradition, while passing the baton to his children. He underlines the importance of making people want to carry on this work, despite the problems that go with it, such as the varying weather conditions.

L’Etivaz AOP: one recipe, 80 different flavors

This hand-made cheese is produced during the summer season, from May to October. Made from raw milk, it is cooked slowly over a wood fire, then pressed and matured in the cellar of the l’Etivaz cooperative, in the village.

Nearly 80 families live in the different valleys surrounding l’Etivaz. The recipe for making the cheese is unique, but “every wheel is different”, explains Nicolas. Indeed, each cheesemaker is located on different mountain slopes, with different flora, which explains the many flavors of L'Etivaz AOP.  Not to mention that every cheesemaker has their own way of working!

It is important that each year the cattle go up to the pastures and that beautiful cheese wheels come down to the plains at the end of the summer !

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