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Jan 17, 2013 02:40 PM


I used to buy a cheese at Fairway in NYC that was called simply “Vigneron.” I liked the cheese a great deal, but now they’ve stopped carrying it. I was surprised when I looked it up that “Vigneron” seems to be a class of cheese rather than a specific cheese. Is that so? Are various vignerons different from one another? My replacement for it has been Tete de Moine (no, I do not have a girolle). What else might I look for as a substitute for vigneron?

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  1. I am not familiar with this name of cheese. So, I'm reading about the relationship btwn this style of cheese and wine making. This one from Australia:

    Am I correct about the origin of this cheese? A cheese wrapped in vine leaves.

    15 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      The vigneron I was buying was Swiss. And it wasn't wrapped in vine leaves. Surprised to read that link. The texture they describe and show neither looks nor sounds like what I had, but the flavor does--what little that link has to say about it.

      1. re: JoanN

        Well, I'm still reading and Vigneron is referred to as the wine maker's cheese in nearly every country that is producing it; perhaps only some with the actual vine leaves. I did see a Swiss maker online reading too. I'm going to keep reading out of my own curiosity. I had never heard of this cheese before. Hopefully other CH's can offer more valuable information.

      2. re: HillJ

        No, the Australian cheese, which I have not tasted, is a semisoft goat's milk cheese washed in a local white wine. It is not exported to the US and, as far as I know, never has been. The cheese that JoanN is asking about is a firm cow's milk cheese made in the mountains of Switzerland. That both cheeses have the same name is nothing more than coincidence.

        Other firm, relatively large Alpine cheeses would be reasonable substitutes for Vigneron, although, of course, each cheese is slightly different. Gruyère, Appenzeller and L'Etivaz are possibilities, as well as some rarer Swiss mountain cheeses that are considerably more expensive. Some French mountain cheeses would also fit the bill, such as Comté, Abondance and Beaufort. The version of Beaufort made in summer when the cow's are high up in the alpine meadows, called Beaufort Alpage, is on my list of all-time favorite cheeses.

        1. re: cheesemaestro

          That both cheeses have the same name is nothing more than coincidence.


          And confusing! Thank you for clearing that up. However, the reading included many 'wine maker's cheeses' with that name. So, what's the deal with wine maker's cheese and vine leaves?

          1. re: HillJ

            To confuse things even more, there is also a cheese from Alsace (France) called Vigneron. It's a Munster cheese that is washed in a brandy made from Gewürtztraminer grapes.

            "What's the deal with winemaker's cheese and vine leaves?"
            I'm not sure I understand your question. Could you be more specific?

            1. re: cheesemaestro

              Sure. Most of my reading about Vigneron led me to wine sites and wine makers making a cheese (not all were goat cheese) that was soaked or washed in their wine and then wrapped in vine leaves. I've now read six such examples. Is the purpose to infuse with both wine and vines and for no other reason? Have you ever tried these types of cheeses. Again, another cheese I was not familiar with and I enjoy wine even more than cheese.

              1. re: HillJ

                OK, now I understand. Infusing cheese with wine, washing cheese in wine and covering cheese with grape leaves or other parts of the grape, such as must, are separate topics in their own right that deserve threads of their own to do them full justice. At this point of the evening, I'm a little too tired to start on any of them, but we can take them up in the coming days/weeks.

                1. re: HillJ

                  You realize "vigneron" means "winemaker" in French? So if you do a search for "vigneron" + cheese you're going to get winemakers making cheese and/or cheese made with wine. If you think about it, both wine and cheese are fermented products!

                  Alcohol-washed cheeses are a whole subset of cheese. There's something about the alcohol that causes different kinds of molds/cultures to form in the cheeses (and usually makes them very stinky!). Some of the most famous cheeses in the world are alcohol-washed cheeses, for example Epoisses, which is washed in the local brandy.

                  In other cases, the spirit infuses the cheese. Rogue River blue, for example, is wrapped in leaves soaked in pear brandy, which give a faint pear undertone. I had a Calvados-washed Camembert in France that was one of the best (and stinkiest) cheeses I've ever had.


                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Thanks Ruth. Yes I do know the word/meaning/translation very well but not much about the cheeses. I'm going to research much more and see my cheese guy. All I typed was vigneron cheese and received six quick picks from wineries.

                    Thanks for your reply.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      wrapped in leaves soaked in pear brandy, which give a faint pear undertone. I had a Calvados-washed Camembert in France that was one of the best (and stinkiest) cheeses I've ever had.
                      good lord that sounds fabulous.

            2. re: cheesemaestro

              Cave-aged Gruyère is a cheese I nearly always have on hand and I'm familiar with Appenzeller, Comté, and Abondance. Never heard of either L'Etivaz or Beaufort and will search them out toot sweet. Any idea whether or not Beaufort Alpage is ever available in the States? Looks like a trip to Murray's is in order. Thanks.

              1. re: JoanN

                Yes, Beaufort Alpage is available in the US. Artisanal in NYC currently has it in stock and Murray's may also have it.

                1. re: cheesemaestro

                  Thank you. Both of you. Will head to Artisinal ASAP. Can't wait to try the Beaufort Alpage and hoping they'll have the Gruyere d'Alpage as well.

                2. re: JoanN

                  In France it is easy to find Gruyere d'Alpage, it is my fav gruyere, far more flavor than the Emmi Caveaged one, my previous favorite
                  Etivaz fame in States some years back when the owner of Ideal bought literally a ton of it and virtually cornered the market.