Le terroir

The story of Roquefort, king of cheeses and cheese of kings, all began in the heart of the magnificent Aveyron countryside in the South of France.

The Vernières family, cave owners in Roquefort since the 15th century, is still one of the greatest Ambassadors of this area, of this soil.

This family company managed to keep its independence over the years; it has produced and sold its protégé all whilst nurturing its love for the product.

Lavishing the utmost attention on each production stage, it improves and transfers its ancestral know-how handed down from generation to generation whilst using the most advanced technology to optimise its manufacturing.

Sheep milk

Roquefort is made entirely from the milk of Lacaune ewes that were especially chosen for their milk-production capacities combined with a hardiness of character well-suited to the Caussenard and Lévezou plateaus.

From 15 November to 31 July, the ewes are milked twice daily which yields two litres per animal on average.

Our 83 producers are located on the Lévezou plateau at an altitude of between 700 and 800 metres, and in order to preserve all the milk’s qualities, an insulated milk tanker collects the fresh milk every morning.

The density of our collection zone means that our producers are located no further than 20 km from our cheese dairy.

Manufacturing

A sample taken from the producer’s tank is inspected every day upon arrival in our laboratory.

Firstly, the results must conform to our specifications drawn up by the Inter-branch Organisation that set out the general conformity criteria to meet the requirements of the AOP, and secondly to the specific criteria established by our company.

After checking the temperature, the milk is mixed, cooled and set aside for cheese production.

The milk, heated to 32°C, arrives in production tanks especially designed for roquefort.

These tanks guarantee the best technology available and optimal product hygiene.

The specificity of our roquefort is guaranteed by the choice of selected Penicillium Roqueforti strains as well as the lactic flora preparations used in addition to unpasteurised milk. After the addition of rennet, coagulation commences.

After approximately two hours and an assessment by the head cheese maker, the work of the curd begins in the vat . Given that raw milk requires daily and diverse technological adaptation, the cheese maker’s experience and trade determine the various processes to be carried out.

This very important process will be one of the decisive aspects of the product’s conformity and strongly influence the quality and the subtlety of the  taste.

The cheese continues to take shape in an environment of 17°C.

It loses its excess water and starts to restore its identity.  An indelible mark is left on it that stays with it right onto your plate.

Then it is dry-salted according to the law and traditions; the sea salt used protects the product until it is eaten and also seals in the typical taste of this very distinctive cheese.

Before being taken to Roquefort the village, the cheese is aired which aids the penicillium roqueforti to develop well in the caves’ atmosphere.

Roquefort cellars

The caves at Roquefort are natural. A rockfall from  the Combalou plateau which overhangs the Roquefort village  , gave rise to some splits  called   “Les Fleurines”.

The ventilation through Les Fleurines determines the temperature and the humidity of these caves and accordingly also their specific nature.

A good cave is very humid with a constant temperature.

The chief cellar man  determines when the cheese is ready to leave the cave to be wrapped in a protective sheet of pure tin. Then the cheese is stored in an unventilated, dark, cool area.

It has to mature  for at least three months before being dispatched, according to the AOP rules.

Before being sold, the protective wrapping is removed from the cheese.

It is simply washed with clear water. The crust must be clean. Then it is dried.

Our range includes slices, wedges , ½ wheel  and mini-cubes. Various machines package all these products in the most excellent sanitised environment.

Our flexibility to adapt our offering enables us to supply both the French and the export market while completely meeting their specific requirements.

All the cheese batches are analysed and are only dispatched if they comply with the legislation and our customers’ specifications.

Each box is identified according to an internal code that enables us to monitor the cheese until it reaches the consumer.

Meeting sanitation requirements, new premises, training and our know-how all serve as a guarantee of a quality product which has earned one of the most challenging awards, a BRC certification.

And so, the Vernières roquefort, the precious result of its terroir and man’s know-how, is to be enjoyed at room temperature, alone or in the company of family or friends.