Bregenzerwald Cheese Road
Start: Mountain Cheese Factory, Schoppernau
End: Mountain Cheese Factory, Schoppernau
Surface: Meadows, Mountain Trails
Bregenzerwald Cheese Road was created by the locals in the farming communities spread across the lush, green alpine meadows of Bregenzerwald in western Austria. There are twelve cows on average for every farm owned by the region’s 1,200 farming families. This is a region in which people still believe in the philosophy that “small is beautiful,” where an interconnected network of families and communities with traditions that are still cherished can continue to farm and to prosper in an era of increasing globalization and big business. lt was the desire to preserve this simple, ancient way of life, and this philosophy of working for yourself and perfecting a craft, that led to the creation of the Kasestrasse: the Cheese Road.
At the last count, there were 200 farms producing cheese on the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road, and that number is growing. It isn’t a marked route, though, SO there are no conveniently signposted trails or pathways-this is the sort of walk that you have to “sniff out,” literally.
You can begin the Bregenzerwald Cheese Road at the Mountain Cheese Factory in Schoppernau, if you like, but from there you are on your own. However, the farms of the region are not too far apart, and families are very welcoming to hikers who turn up unannounced. They are happy to take them on tours of their farms and show them the various aspects of cheese production. And at the many huts that dot the hillsides, you can buy a meal and sample the local cheeses-particularly kaseknopfle, a very cheesy pasta dish and a local specialty. Many hotels and restaurants are members of the Cheese Road, too, providing they have a minimum of five Bregenzerwald cheeses on their menus-a far from onerous requirement.