montes de alcala

Montes de Alcalá

“Quesería El Gazul” was born in a landscape dominated by cork oak groves, characterised by the beauty of the Andalusian white villages. It is a family company located in Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz), which has been awarded numerous prizes in recent years thanks to the top quality of its cheese.
“Montes de Alcalá”, its flagship product, is an organic cheese made out of payoya goat milk, an indigenous species from the mountain ranges in Cádiz and Ronda (Málaga). This location, together with a sustainable production method which is closely tied to this area, are responsible for the success of this local business which distributes its products both national and worldwide.

Words by: Candela Montero      Photo by: Daniel Alea

“Montes de Alcalá” has been selected as one of the best 50 cheeses of the world in the “Cheese World Award 2011” and it has been awarded, among other prizes, as the best organic cheese from Spain in the International Exhibition of Gourmet Club 2016. It has seduced the finest palates all over the world and it has become a gourmet product requested beyond the Spanish borders, being now distributed to USA, United Kingdom and France, among other countries. Jorge Puerto, a master cheesemaker and manager of “Quesería El Gazul” is a self-made businessman, who not only has a passion for the land, the goats and the cheese, but also is an enterprising and brave person. He has managed to successfully adapt the traditional farming methods and production process to the current legislation and market.

A family tradition of cheesemakers served him to continue with the recipe and to perfect it until he reached a premium category that has been recognized by the industry experts. Jorge started his project in the year 1998with a small herd of goats, from which he selected the best milk for his cheese. Four years later, in 2002, he made a great leap forward and opened a factory that made possible to increase the traditional production volume. Nowadays, “Quesería El Gazul” counts on 500 specimens approximately, and together with the contribution of 80 farmers from the region, it is able to produce more than one million litres of milk for its cheese per year.

All these achievements derive from daily intense work in the fields.

The key of this product is the exquisite raw material involved, carefully controlled along all the process phases, with which more than 120,000 kg of cheese are produced each year. A careful selection of products is offered:from the awarded organic “Montes de Alcalá”, going through the varieties curated with paprika or with Iberian lard and rosemary, to subtle cottage cheese. In fact, all of them successfully compete in the main international cheese contests.

All these achievements derive from daily intense work in the fields. It does not matter if it rains or if it is extremely hot, the herd of goats will always need daily cares – from Monday to Sunday –. This is one of the core strengths of “Quesería El Gazul” since it counts on a team of goatherds who have a professional approach to taking care of every animal with love.

 

The magnificent Los Alcornocales Natural Park is the natural settlement where “Quesería El Gazul” is situated. In this location, payoya goats, whoare the true protagonists of the story of this cheese, graze freely. This is what Javier describes, one of the goatherds of the cheese factory, who knows almost every single detail of each of the goats and who enthusiastically this area of southern Andalusia.

“Quesería El Gazul” is located in a perfect spot to explore thewhite villages in Cádiz mountain rang.

Some years ago, the payoya goat was an endangered species. Nonetheless, thanks to the progressive development of the cheese industry and of the shepherding, they have gained importance in this area again. These goats, characterised by a variety of brown tones that camouflage with the skirt of the mountain, are used to living close to the human being, which enables to easily care for them and to establish a close relation between the goatherd and the animal.

In addition to the singularity of payoya goats and the cheese made out of their milk, “Quesería El Gazul” is located in a perfect spot to explore the white villages in Cádiz mountain range, which motivate visitors to walk trails through its natural park. Furthermore, we cannot forget the marvelous beaches in Cádiz, a combination that mixes  of landscapes,flavours and tradition in the same trip.

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