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Published on : Thursday, May 21, 2015
It’s a springtime ritual in mountainous Switzerland. Cows that have spent the winter eating hay in the valley start moving up to higher pastures. By late July they are well above treeline and grazing on rich alpine grasses and wildflowers. These cows produce the raw-milk, full-flavored well-aged, hard-rind cheeses that Switzerland is famous for—Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Appenzeller.
Swiss farmers say that “the grass grows sweeter as cows graze higher on the mountain, until you reach the sky, where even the farmers eat the grass.” Farmers claim they can taste the difference between the cheese made by cows in the valley from those milked on the high alpine meadows.
To showcase both the great cheeses of Switzerland, and the spectacular mountain scenery of the Alps, one American tour company with over 30 years of experience in the Alps, leads gourmet tours in Switzerland. Alpenwild, the premier provider tours in the Swiss Alps, offers summer tours that capture both the gastronomic delights and the scenic wonder of glaciers and high alpine peaks, all made easily accessible by cogwheel railways, funiculars, and mountain cableways.
The nine-day, all-inclusive, small-group tour, Cheese, Chocolate, and the Scenic Alps (offered July 1 to September 30), links vineyards, chocolatiers, cheese dairies, and top restaurants with some of the most iconic mountain scenery in the world. Guests are immersed in the scenery, culture, and cuisine of Switzerland in small cities, towns, and regions including Luzern, Emmental, Grindelwald, Gruyères, Montreux, the Rhone Valley, and Zermatt.
Guests will be on hand for cheese making over an open fire, tending a vineyard, learning the craft of making fine chocolates, and cultivating mountain herbs. They will indulge in the rich culinary tradition of the Alps as they savor fondue, Raclette, alp cheese, artisan rye breads, Pinot Noir wines, and a continual supply of Swiss chocolate.
“Everyone knows what a great outdoor destination the Alps is.” says Greg Witt, President of Alpenwild. “But our guests are also finding out what a great culinary region it is.” Witt notes that in addition to the exclusive visits and gourmet experiences, the tours include some of Switzerland’s most scenic mountain excursions like the Jungfrau railway which tunnels through the Eiger, and the Gornergrat cogwheel railway which ascends to an alpine paradise near the Matterhorn.
Guests enjoy lake cruises, castles, and medieval towns like Luzern and Gruyères. The tours visit popular mountain resorts of Grindelwald and Zermatt which cater to international tastes and attract top chefs. Accommodations are in hand-picked, independently-owned hotels that offer a high standard of comfort. Some are chalet-styled inns, others are historic hotels, and all evoke the charm and romance of the Alps.