Alp Jänzimatt belongs to the community of Giswil in the central Swiss Alps and can be reached by the scenic view drive from Giswil to Sörenberg. It is a neighboring Alp to Arni-Schwand which has joined Adopt-an-Alp in 2017. The Jänzimatt chalet is located at 5300 ft. a.s.l., but the meadows go up over 6600 ft. When the animals reach the highest pastures they are milked by a mobile milk station. Since 2004 the animals can also rest in an extended (exercise-) pen.
Transhumance for the Riebli family lasts usually from early June to the end of September. Adrian and Heidi have 4 kids, Janik (21), Yvana (19), Ramon (17) and Matthias (15). They join them on the Alp during summer break as well as on the weekends and Wednesday afternoons when there is no school.
The Rieblis work with the milk of 42 cows, they own 26 of them, the rest belongs to neighbors. Beside those they also move 25 heifers plus calves and some pigs to the Alp. The latter will “recycle” the whey that occurs with cheese production.
In total there are three operations on Alp Jänzimatt with a total of about 100 cows. Together the three families have built a little power station, they also maintain the road up to the Alp.
Obwalden, one of the founding cantons of Switzerland, follows a regulation of Alp operation in the oldest and most democratic fashion. In essence every farmer who wants to do transhumance has the right to belong to the cooperation. The rent of an Alp chalet is assessed in relation to the number of animals. Every 10 years there’s an auction to rent out the Alps. The Riebli clan, for that matter, goes to Alp Jänzimatt for more than 50 years.
Enticing is also the product line of Jänzimatt: The Alpage (from last year) is equivalent to a Berner Oberländer Hobelkäse, very hard, so you shave it. But there is also a raclette and a “Niidlechäs” with added cream. But probably the most fascinating (and rarest) product is the Full Moon Cheese: It is made during a full moon, that means throughout the night. “It is mystical, there is this special mood, a special relationship to the cheese when you produce in the moon light,” says Adrian.