On one of the walls of El Roano, a tiny cheese factory near Lorcain the Region of Murcia, the Giner family regularly hangs the awards they give to their cheeses. According to the succinct brochure they hand out to gourmets who come to visit them, have won 13 awards in international competitions. It isn’t true. On their website, which they update in fits and starts, they reach 20 awards received from grand juries and tasters. Not even they have accounted for them. Since this family of goatherds founded their artisan cheese factory in 2015, the glitter awards have become an unstoppable accumulation exercise. Acknowledgments achieved with 11 types of cheese, hard pasta and soft pasta; of raw and pasteurized milk, in addition to the blue of moldy pasta.
Peter Ginereldest son of the family, was in full activity when we met at his cheese factory.
How did you start?
“We are a family company in which my mother, my father Pedro and my brother Jaime gave us our lives from dawn to dusk working. We produce cheeses from the milk of our purebred goats murciano-granadina. I have been taking care of raising our goats since I was a child. Part of the milk we produce, excellent, we sell it to make cheeses with denomination of origin. Inspectors monitor us. We have built this very modern ship recently. It houses some 1,000 goats that enjoy the best quality of life. Animal welfare is little. They have alfalfa at will that we mow green to provide them with more protein, to which we add 18% sunflower seeds. The animals even have brushes to scratch themselves and reduce stress at certain times. I program the machine that loads the feed from the silos with my mobile phone, it does so automatically at the appointed time, and as many times as necessary”.
Are you going through a sweet moment?
“Now that our cheeses are sold regularly and some types even have a waiting list, everything seems easy, but it hasn’t been. We have faced very hard times. I remember scenes from my family in which my mother and I would go to collect nectarines to be able to pay for the animal feed. A thousand stories like when tuberculosis broke out and all the cattle had to be slaughtered. We have overcome many setbacks at the cost of suffering. It is not easy to be a goatherd with high quality standardsOn the contrary, as complicated as it is expensive. The goats are very sacrificed, they have to be milked daily. We have 300 pregnant women”.
“We started in 2015 at the cost of an immeasurable effort. People didn’t know us and hardly anyone bought anything from us. After a year and a half, the first prizes began to arrive and the sales of some pieces began to skyrocket. In Murcia, cheese with wine is traditional and several times we have been invited to make one of this type, but we have rejected it, what we do is enough for us”.
How have you been formed?
“I am a self-taught craftsmanI have learned the techniques of the trade by reading, studying and observing elaborations in YouTube videos. I have not been educated in any school nor have I traveled to France as some suppose due to the results”.
Raw or pasteurized milk?
“The raw milk ones are better for me. These are complicated cheeses to the extent that rigorous and sometimes strenuous controls have to be observed, but when you get the hang of them they are easier than pasteurized ones. In fact, in four years we have won nine international awards with our raw milk cheeses”.
Any best sellers?
“Our blue cheese, runner-up in Spain at the recent Salón de Gourmets 2022, is on fire. We export it to Germany and it is all the rage in Italy. Apparently, there are shops deli in Milan where they sell it for 600 euros per kilo. In Spain we have doubled sales. I am sorry that some of the artisan cheeses produced in our country are not valued in the Spanish market as they deserve. The Italian gorgonzola is great but the Italians themselves take ours and pay dearly for it. Let it be clear that I profess the greatest respect for our Spanish clients”.
Peculiarities of your blue?
“Normally the blues are made with cow’s milk, sheep’s milk or a mixture of the three milks. Only with goat’s milk it is difficult, the caproic acids do not allow the Penicillium roqueforti out with the necessary normality. When we started I didn’t like the results. We had to modify many parameters and discard many parts. For eight months it is where I wanted. Now I feel satisfied.”
After a brief tour in the open air, we went to the cheese factory before concluding at the tasting table. Each of the pieces Peter Giner he cut and offered us with enthusiasm was accompanied by his own story: type of milk, type of coagulation, aging time and, of course, a list of the awards that the pieces have deserved to date.
“This pressed paste cheese has been a gold medal in the Lyon International Competition 2022. And he has won another gold medal in Gran Canaria. At the last World Cheese Award held in Oviedo last fall, our blue cheese cream deserved gold medal; a silver medal for raw milk, and a bronze medal for the semi-cured in oil with black pepper. We have suffered a lot, but we are satisfied that several of our cheeses are backed by international recognition and the appreciation of our customers. Waiting lists are inevitable, we are artisans and our production is limited”.
Incomplete list of awards received by the Cheese Factory the roan
World Cheese Award
2016 San Sebastian: 1 silver and 1 bronze medal
2017 London: Super gold and two silver
2018 Bergen (Norway): Gold, silver and bronze
2019 Bergamo (Italy): 2 golds and one silver
2021 Oviedo: Gold, 2 silvers and bronze
2020 Lyon International Competition: Gold and silver.
2022 Madrid Gourmet Hall Runner-up for blue cheese
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