In 1997, Adrian Buff’s parents moved his family from their dairy farm in Switzerland to Ava, Missouri.
They needed to build a new barn, but Switzerland’s regulations were so tight that they decided to relocate to the green pastures of the Ozarks.
As an adult, Buff returned to Switzerland to learn the craft of cheesemaking. Here, he studied to become a dairy technologist and also apprenticed at a medium-sized dairy.
After five years, Buff returned to the family farm to start Grison Dairy & Creamery. In October 2018, he started selling cheese made from milk from his family’s dairy cows, which he produces at Terrell Creek Farm in Fordland.
Currently, Grison Dairy & Creamy offers two types of cheese: Ozark Mutschli and The Grisontaler.
Ozark Mutschli is a semi-hard pasteurized cheese that uses a special blend of cultures. After brining, Buff washes it daily, then tapers off to three washes a week with a brine solution of different cultures, salt and water. The cheese is aged at least one month; when ready, it has a creamy flavor and texture.
The Grisontaler, meanwhile, is a hard cheese made with raw milk, so it has to legally age for at least 60 days. The cheese is aged in a warm cave where it develops eyes, the characteristic round holes in Swiss cheese that are caused by the formation of carbon dioxide due to microbial metabolism.
The Grisontaler is more characteristic of traditional Swiss cheese and has a nutty flavor, with a more intense aroma and flavor profile. The cheese is named after the farm, as "taler" translates to "of the valley" and "Grison" is the name of the canton (a member state of the Swiss confederation) where the Buff family lived in Switzerland.
Grison Dairy's cheeses are also notable in that they feature an Alpine-washed rind. “Within Switzerland, it’s a special culture, sometimes called a smeared rind, that is smeared on the cheese and is often called Alpine [for the] region,” Buff explains. “I am a really big fan of washed rind cheeses. One of the advantages is it ages fairly fast in comparison to some other washed rind cheeses.”
For now, Buff plans to continue perfecting his two cheeses and building a distribution network for Grison Dairy.
His cheeses are available at Mama Jean’s Natural Market on Republic Road and Brown Derby International Wine Center in Springfield, as well as Richard’s Brothers in Mountain Grove and Ava Beverage in Ava. You can also look for Grison Dairy cheeses on the menu at Harvest Restaurant and Farmers Gastropub.
Grison Dairy & Creamery, Ava, Missouri, facebook.com/grisondairy