“I use only the milk from my goats, in keeping with the tradition handed down to me over the years by my grandmother, Natalina”. I’m Denny, her grandson, and I have decided to keep the tradition alive.
From April to November, the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. The goats are milked first thing in the morning and then at around 7 o’clock I take them out to graze. Only the grass and hay of our meadows, of our land. It’s a moment of peace and rest for me out in the pasture as I watch my goats eat, run and play.
We return to the goat shed at about 10 a.m. Time to make the cheese. There are no flow charts, chronometers or computers. Everything is done in keeping with the natural rhythms set by tradition and experience. Our cheese rounds aren’t perfect; they’re imperfect. That’s their nature. Each cheese is unique, with its own story. Flavour and perfume are different every time. Authenticity and quality are the only certainties.
The day is still long, there are many things to do before twilight, but everything’s easier when you know that today, too, you made something that’s good.
To me, passion, dedication and happiness are essential ingredients in a good cheese.
The name of my farm is Azienda Agricola Natalina. Natalina is my grandmother’s name. She passed on her passion for this work to me. I am the fourth generation. We raise goats and make cheese.
We’re located in the Upper Garda Park in the municipality of Tremosine, on Lake Garda, in a setting of outstanding natural beauty.
The unusual combination of different local environments – Mediterranean along Lake Garda and Alpine in the immediate interior – generates a unique biodiversity of flora and fauna, ranging from lemon trees, oaks and beeches around the lake to mountain pines at high altitudes.
We keep Camosciata delle Alpi (Chamois Coloured) goats and cross-breeds. We take them out to pasture every day from April to November, weather permitting. No feedstuff, only the grass of our meadows, of our land. In our little farm dairy, built “as in the past”, I use only the milk from my goats, in keeping with the tradition handed down to me over the years by my grandmother, Natalina.
Among the different kinds of animal milk, that of the goat was the first that humans consumed. In ancient times this precious food was the prime source of nourishment for newborns and babies in many civilisations of the Mediterranean basin and the Orient. As for its composition, goat’s milk (together with donkey’s milk) is the one most similar to human milk, though it has long been “ousted” by cow’s milk. Goats give birth once a year. Therefore the composition of the nanny’s milk depends on the lactation stage; at the beginning and at the end of lactation the nanny produces less milk, which, however, is more concentrated and therefore has higher levels of fat and protein. In summer the quantity of milk is higher, while the fat content is lower. Goat’s milk has high levels of iron and calcium; the latter gives a quicker feeling of fullness. Lastly, the particular molecular structure of the milk’s protein and fat means it is easily digested.
In a way, goat cheese could be described as a “gut friend” because it is more easily tolerated by people allergic to cow’s milk protein.
Where to find our cheese
You can buy our cheese here on our farm, or you’ll find it in the little village shops. The quantity and timing of our production are governed by Nature. There’s no mass production with pre-fixed numbers and delivery times. A number of our local restaurants attach great importance to special quality and therefore you might have the pleasant surprise of being served our cheese. You can also meet us at the most interesting and traditional food festivals, where lovers of flavours “as they used to be” are sure to gather.
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Our cheese if the fruit of great experience and passion. We’re happy in our work, and devoted to it. Our close relationship with our local land is the secret behind the quality of our cheese. We make cheese daily, in accordance with tradition. The new morning’s milk is filtered then poured into the vat and made into cheese. From April to October, our goats eat only the grass and hay in our meadows. Our cheese isn’t perfect; indeed, imperfection is its true value. Shape, fragrance and flavour vary depending on the grass our goats eat. The grass “del Prà di Stavèl” (from the field at Stavèl) is fragrant and full of flavour, giving the cheese an intense taste. When the goats graze “giù en Fail” (down at Fail) the grass is greener and richer and the cheese has multiple flavours. No percentages or mathematical calculations; Nature fine-tunes our production. Our cheese is absolutely natural: milk, rennet and salt.
Denny, why don’t you make cheese in winter?
“Because in winter the goats need their milk for their kids. I can’t steal their nourishment. I do other things in winter: I fix the goat shed, chop firewood, and even rest a bit. That’s my philosophy”.