We are welcomed by the director Giuseppe Rizzi, who begins to tell us how Grana Padano is made by processing the milk supplied by the 21 members of the cooperative, all from the Piacenza area. He also tells us that the PDO cheese is the main ingredient in many characteristic local dishes, such as “anolini in broth”, “pisarei e fasoi” (pasta and bread crumbs small gnocchi with borlotti beans), and “Piacenza-style tortelli with ricotta and spinach”.
We then go into the shaping room, where the cheese is first placed in moulds of suitable plastic material and then in steel moulds so that they take on a cylindrical shape. No less than 400 wheels are laid out on trolleys, using a system that saves on space and labour.
After 3 days, the wheels are immersed in brine, where they remain for 17 to 18 days. In this room, re-modernised in 2011, we meet Luigi, a 29 year-old who has been working in the dairy for six and a half years. We watch him as he turns the wheels to ensure that the brine is properly distributed. Once the salting phase is finished, the wheels are transferred to the warehouse.
Our visit ends in the factory shop, where we meet Simonetta, who has been selling the cooperative’s cheese, and other local products, for the last 30 years.
In fact, in addition to Grana Padano PDO, here visitors can also purchase many other dairy products, including butter, ricotta and caciotta, as well as other products like organic honey, wine and PDO cured meats, such as coppa piacentina.
The pride and joy of the factory shop is the Grana Padano PDO cheese matured for over 30 months, a product that makes the Santa Vittoria cheese dairy a Mecca for gourmet food enthusiasts.