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A Season With Swiss Cheesemakers

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In Gruyeres, western Switzerland, from mid-May to mid-October, the fifth generation of the Murith family produces its distinctive mountain pasture Gruyere cheese. Each wheel of cheese weighs between 25 and 40 kilograms, and takes a minimum of six months to mature. The family produces 200 wheels each year to sell locally, using unpasteurized milk from their own herd of cows. Reuters photographer Denis Balibouse spent time with the Murith family over this past grazing season, capturing days and nights in the alpine pastures of Switzerland. [23 photos]

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Cheesemaker and farmer Jacques Murith prepares the whey to make serac at the Proveta pasture in Gruyeres, western Switzerland, on June 13, 2013. During the summer grazing season, starting mid-May to mid-October, the fifth generation Murith family produce a distinctive mountain pasture Gruyere cheese. Each wheel of cheese weighs between 25-40 kilograms, and takes a minimum of six months to mature. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
Cheesemaker and farmer Jacques Murith prepares the whey to make serac at the Proveta pasture in Gruyeres, western Switzerland, on June 13, 2013. During the summer grazing season, starting mid-May to mid-October, the fifth generation Murith family produce a distinctive mountain pasture Gruyere cheese. Each wheel of cheese weighs between 25-40 kilograms, and takes a minimum of six months to mature. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
Cows graze in a field at the Tsermon mountain pasture in Gruyeres, Switzerland, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Farmer Jacques Murith gathers his cows prior to their departure for the Proveta pasture on the first day of the season in Gruyeres, Switzerland, on May 8, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Murith family members and friends walk down a track toward the Gruyeres Castle with a herd of cows for the rindya (a dialect word for the return to the plains) on the last day of the season in Gruyeres, on October 12, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Cows stand outside La Proveta mountain pasture chalet after the morning milking during a full moon in Gruyeres, on September 20, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Cheesemaker and farmer Alexandre Murith milks the cows at the Proveta pasture in Gruyeres, on June 13, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Cheesemaker Jacques Murith chops wood for the fire at the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on July 10, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Wood fire warms the milk in a copper vat at La Proveta mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on September 20, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Jacques Murith pours a bucket of skim milk into a copper vat in Gruyeres, on June 13, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Jacques Murith splits the curds into grains during the cheese making process at the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on July 10, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Jacques Murith further splits the curds during cheese making process in Gruyeres, on July 10, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Using cheesecloth, Jacques Murith molds a wheel of cheese at La Proveta mountain pasture chalet on September 20, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Jacques Murith (left) and his son Alexandre press newly made wheels of cheese at Le Commun mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on July 7, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Alexandre Murith removes molds after making a wheel of cheese at La Proveta mountain pasture chalet on September 20, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Traditional carved wooden spoons hang from hooks in the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Cheesemaker Jacques Murith checks the cohesion of the newly made cheese with his fingers at the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet, on July 10, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Newly made wheels of cheese travel down a cable car for delivery to the ripening cellar in front of the Moleson summit at the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet in western Switzerland, on July 17, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Alexandre Murith transports wheels of cheese in the ripening cellar in Gruyeres, on July 7, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Fireworks, launched from the summit of Moleson mountain, ahead of Swiss National Day at the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on July 31, 2013. The chalet was lit using a flash and long exposure. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Jacques Murith walks down the rindya (a dialect word for the return to the plains) on the last day of the season at La Proveta mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on October 12, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
A cross hangs on the entrance of the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, photographed on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
Cows graze in the late afternoon in the Tsermon mountain pasture chalet in Gruyeres, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
A curious cow, in a field at the Tsermon mountain pasture in Gruyeres, Switzerland, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #

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