around the year one thousand, Benedictine and Cistercian monks started extensive land reclamation and deforestation on the Pianura Padana or Po Plain, which at the time was largely marshy and covered with forests. This huge undertaking transformed the valley of the Po into an ideal place for agriculture and for raising livestock, particularly cattle used both for milk production and for working in the fields.
In a short time the milk production exceeded the needs of the inhabitants, and it therefore became necessary to find ways to preserve it. The solution was soon found because the monks, who had long since worked out a way to coagulate the milk to turn it into fresh cheese, found an innovative solution: they used heat to help drain the curds and get a cheese with a better consistency and that lasted longer. It was in the monasteries, then, that a hard cheese was developed that, with maturing, became better and more intense.
So it was that the monks began a regular production of this cheese made with milk bought either from local farmers or at the market. They created rooms in the monasteries specifically for the processing of milk, equipped with boilers for cooking and special tools for the production of the cheese. This increased specialization led to the creation of some professional roles including the cheese maker who, under the supervision of the monks and following the rules they laid down, cared for the production of the cheese, overseeing the various stages up to the maturing process. The cheese obtained was initially called “caseus vetus,” or old cheese, but with the passage of time the product took on the name “grana”, descriptive of the grainy aspect that still characterises the cheese today.
At the end of the eleventh century, the marketing of caseus vetus was already well established with a proper commercial network and branches in major cities. In the first decades of the twelfth century, during the reign of Federico II, “Grana cheese” had acquired such stature and value that the wheels were used as prestigious gifts, as well as being used for bartering and payment.
During the Renaissance, the cheese found its way into the noble dining rooms of Europe, with names that indicated their provenance: Melanese, Lodesano, formai de Codogno, Piasentino, Brassiano, Mantovano and Veneto. However, it was the name “grana” which quickly established itself above the others, regardless of the limited area of origin.
In the early twentieth century, grana was still considered one of the “most uncertain and complex” of cheeses: in fact, the method of manufacture differed significantly depending on the season, the location and other influences that affected the milk and the cheese from one day to the next. “Seeing it made in the winter and then in the summer, even at the hands of the same cheese maker and in the same cheese factory” there were “such differences as to make it seem that you were looking at two completely different types of cheese”, if only because of the different fat content and the variations in the degree of acidity of the milk that was used.
The arrival of the nineteenth century was characterized by the use of increasingly sophisticated technologies that led to the emergence of new entrepreneurial approaches. Some of the steps marked the start of a process that, while respecting the old working methods, led to the type of cheese that is now known as Grana Padano PDO.
In 1927 the Stresa Convention.
In 1951, the definition of legislation on cheese with Denomination of Origin.
In 1954 the founding of the Grana Padano Consortium.
In 1996 Grana Padano was awarded the PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, by the European Community.
For over sixty years the Latteria Sociale Stallone has been one of the leading players in the development of this process. At a local level the Latteria made two strategic choices: to join Confcooperative and to promote the creation of the Consorzio Co. Lat. that guarantees quality control of the product.