When cheesemaker Ewald Schafer took over the village dairy in Cressier, Switzerland in 1993, the facility had been producing exclusively Emmentaler for years. But because Emmentaler actually comes from the Emmental region to the East of Fribourg, Ewald didn’t feel that the cheese really belonged in Cressier. He decided to phase out its production and instead create a Swiss original unique to his small dairy. By 1998 he’d stopped making Emmentaler, and production of Mont Vully was in full swing. Today he and his family live in the same building as the cheesemaking facility, and they work as cheesemakers together.
The cow’s milk for Mont Vully is sourced from an organic farm in Cressier, operated by François Müller and Jean-Pierre Sahli. Milk is delivered to Ewald’s facility each morning at 7:30.
First the milk is thermalized in order to eliminate undesirable bacteria, but the temperature is kept low to preserve the ‘good’ bacteria. After cultures and rennet are added, the Schafers wait for the milk to coagulate, then cut the curd using a wire harp. Curds are heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and the whey is drained off. After the curds are transferred to hoops, the wheels are marked with the characteristic grape imprint unique to Mont Vully cheeses.
Wheels are soaked in brine for 24 hours, and then they’re placed in a cellar to mature at a temperature of 12-16 degrees Celsius for at least 10 weeks. They’re routinely washed with salt brine and with Pinot Noir.
Mont Vully is produced and sold in three varieties: ‘Classique’, ‘Bio’, and ‘Réserve’. Classique is the original style, a firm cheese with a mild, pure, and slightly spicy flavor, and an ivory to pale yellow paste.
Bio Mont Vully is the organic variety, made according to the strict guidelines of Bio Suisse, the Association of Swiss Organic Farmers. It’s made only using milk from certified organic dairy farms, and it’s rubbed with Pinot Regent organic wine as well as browned organic wheat flour. It’s slightly milder than the Classique variety and has a darker red-brown rind.
The Réserve variety is left to mature for at least 25 weeks—six months longer than the other varieties. It becomes firmer and spicier with age.